Representative Patrick Kennedy Completes Court-Ordered Probation Early Following Car Crash

Rep. Patrick Kennedy has completed the probation and court-ordered drug treatment for his middle-of-the-night car crash near the Capitol last May.

District of Columbia Superior Court Magistrate Judge Aida Melendez approved early termination of Kennedy's probation on April 10, more than two months before it was to end.

"He fulfilled his court-ordered requirements earlier than the date given," Kennedy spokesman Robin Costello said Friday.

Kennedy, D-R.I., met the terms of his probation, including weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and counseling with his physician, Dr. Ronald Smith, according to a review of Kennedy's court records by The Associated Press.

"Mr. Kennedy is genuinely and honestly engaged in his recovery process," Smith wrote in a March 22 letter. "He has continued to attend daily AA meetings for the past year and is clean and sober. ... We remain very optimistic."

Kennedy, the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a recent TV interview that he had sought treatment for an addiction to the painkiller OxyContin months before wrecking his car.

The 39-year-old Kennedy, who won re-election to a seventh term last fall, has been open about his struggles with mental illness, including bipolar disorder, and his addictions to alcohol and various substances.

The congressman has battled addiction problems since high school, and he has been a passionate advocate on Capitol Hill for improved mental health care coverage.

He crashed his green 1997 Ford Mustang convertible into a security barrier about 3 a.m. on May 4, 2006.

As part of a plea deal last June, Kennedy was sentenced to drug treatment and probation.

In the hours before the wreck, Kennedy said, he returned home from work and took a sleeping pill, Ambien, and Phenergan, a prescription anti-nausea drug that can cause drowsiness. He said he did not consume alcohol.

One day after the crash, he entered the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment for addiction to pain drugs.

The following month, Kennedy agreed to plead guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

Two other charges against Kennedy — reckless driving and failure to exhibit a driving permit — were dismissed in the plea deal.

The congressman was given a 10-day jail sentence that was suspended, and he was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service. He agreed to pay $350 — $250 of which would go to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and $100 to a crime victims' fund.

He also was required to check in once a week with his AA sponsor, Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., and to submit to random urine screenings for drug abuse.