Yale officials continue to assert that tests offered no conclusive evidence of alcohol in history professor Paul Kennedy’s system at the time of the accident that injured a School of Music student last week, though New Haven police officials said Tuesday that they stand by the charges issued at that time.
NHPD spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said she is unable to release Kennedy’s BAC and cannot comment on claims by University officials that Kennedy passed a Breathalyzer test following the accident. Kennedy, whose vehicle struck and injured Marisa Green MUS ’06 in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, currently faces five charges, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Although Kennedy has declined to comment on the events surrounding the accident, top Yale officials have defended him as an exemplary member of the faculty. Still, Winchester said she supports the actions of the arresting NHPD officers.
“If police officers arrested Kennedy, then they had reason to believe that he was driving under the influence,” Winchester said.
But following Kennedy’s arrest, members of the Yale administration issued statements denying allegations that Kennedy was driving under the influence. In an e-mail to the News, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said Kennedy was taken to the police station for “routine” tests and questioning, and passed a Breathalyzer test meant to determine whether or not he had alcohol in his system.
“He was tested for alcohol, and in the test that they gave him no alcohol was detected,” she said in an interview.
Winchester said she could not confirm whether or not Kennedy was given a Breathalyzer test, but she said police officers initially use a series of standardized field sobriety tests to determine whether or not a driver involved in an accident is under the influence of a controlled substance.
“They usually have the person walk in a straight line and turn, stand on one leg, and follow a pen with their eyes,” she said.
Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said police officers have the authority to arrest a driver on charges of driving under the influence before administering a Breathalyzer examination if the person fails one of the field sobriety tests. Drivers who fail field sobriety tests are usually arrested and then tested when they are brought to the police station, he said.
Though Patten said he could not comment on the particulars of the accident, he said drivers who are arrested after failed field sobriety tests must still appear before the court, even if they later pass a Breathalyzer test.
“[Police officers] don’t have the authority to drop charges,” he said. “Only judges can do that.”
Kennedy, whose vehicle struck Green at around 1:15 a.m. on Bishop Street as she was exiting her car, faces charges of operating an automobile under the influence of drugs or alcohol, illegally operating a motor vehicle while under suspension, illegally operating a motor vehicle without insurance, following too closely, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle.
Court officials said Kennedy, who was released without bail, is expected to appear in court on Feb. 16.