CBS News has surveillance footage of a Florida judge crashing into a courthouse gate. Broward County Judge Lynn Rosenthal, who pled no contest to a misdemeanor traffic charge after the prosecutor decided to drop the DUI charge, crashed into the gate not once, but twice. The second time happened after a sheriff’s deputy opened the gate slightly for her. Rosenthal gave the following statement:
“It is important for the public to know this accident was the result of an involuntary overdose and adverse drug reaction I had to… the generic form of Ambien CR. This involuntary overdose was caused because my doctor mistakenly prescribed me twice the amount of Ambien CR recommended by the FDA.”
According to her attorney, she didn’t realize she was still feeling the effects of the drug the following morning, or that it wasn’t safe for her to drive. After she hit the gate the second time, the deputies surrounded her and arrested her for DUI.
Rosenthal isn’t just the third judge to get arrested in Florida for DUI in seven months; she’s the third judge in Broward County to get arrested for DUI in seven months. Is there something in the water down there? How many DUIs have these people handed out in the course of their careers?
According to NBC News, Broward County’s public defender said of the problem:
“When people ascend to the bench and put that robe on, it’s very common that they start to believe that they are bigger than the law; they are above the law; they are the law. Is that happening in Broward? I’ve seen that happen here for many years, decades. I thought it was getting better. I still think it’s getting better, but this is a very big bump in the road.”
A “very big bump in the road” is an understatement; judges are the people who hand down sentences for crimes. Because of that, they’re necessarily held to a higher standard when it comes to obeying the law. Rosenthal tested negative for alcohol, so it’s entirely possible that she’s telling the truth about the Ambien CR.
In early 2013, the FDA issued a warning about zolpidem, which is the active ingredient in all versions of Ambien. They recommended lowering the regular dose because levels of the drug could still be high enough in the morning to impair people, making it unsafe for them to do things like drive. If she did, indeed, take a double dose, she could very well have had problems without even realizing it.
As for why she took the double dose, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether she’s being honest or not. Rosenthal is up for re-election this year, and for now, she continues to serve in the county’s foreclosure division.
Watch the video of Rosenthal’s crash:
Featured Photo: Screen grab via CBS 48 Crimesider.