Philadelphia Nun Convicted Of Drunk Driving After Steering Her Car Into A Building Despite ‘Sleep Driving’ Defense

A Philadelphia nun was convicted of a DUI by a judge at the Washington Township Municipal Court in New Jersey on Wednesday. Sister Kimberly Miller, a librarian and theology teacher at Little Flower Catholic School in Philadelphia, drove her vehicle into an auto repair shop in November of last year, and her blood alcohol level tested twice the legal limit. While the blood test seemed damning, Sister Miller claimed she only had a single glass of wine and an Ambien before going to bed and doesn’t remember the incident. Instead, the nun claims she was “sleep driving,” which resulted in the accident.

The Associated Press reports that a Philadelphia nun, Sister Kimberly Miller, was convicted of drunk driving by Judge Martin Whitcraft. As a result of the conviction, the nun had her license revoked for 90 days and was ordered to pay $257 plus court fees. The conviction stemmed from an incident that occurred in New Jersey last year. In November of 2015, Sister Miller drove her car into an auto repair building. At the time of the accident, police responding to the scene noted that the nun was slurring her speech and had bloodshot eyes. It was also reported that Sister Miller was having difficulty walking and staggered from her car after the accident.

A video of the nun’s sobriety test was uploaded to YouTube and shows the nun, in her habit and veil, performing a sobriety test near the scene of the accident.

The nun was given a blood-alcohol test that showed the woman was driving with two times the legal alcohol limit in her system at the time of the crash. However, the blood-alcohol test was stricken from the evidence after it was revealed the responding officer did not perform 20 minutes of observation before performing the test as is required by Pennsylvania law.

“The judge tossed the blood-alcohol test from evidence because the officer did not directly observe the nun for 20 minutes before administering the test, as required.”

Despite the blood-alcohol test being removed from evidence, the nun was still found guilty of the DUI based on the observations by several witnesses at the scene and statements made by law enforcement. The nun’s defense attorney argued that Sister Miller was the victim of “sleep driving” and that she has a sleepwalking and dissociative disorder that caused the accident.

According to WPVI, at the time of the accident, an open but corked bottle of wine was found behind the driver’s seat. The wine bottle was half-empty, and the nun reportedly told the officer at the time that she had two glasses of wine at a book signing before the accident and that she had just taken an Ambien to help her sleep.

It is unclear which story the nun used in court: the two glasses of wine at a book signing or the one glass of wine before bed story told by the Associated Press. However, it is clear that the nun felt the Ambien was to blame for her accident, not the alcohol. Her lawyer claimed numerous times that the nun was not drunk but rather suffering from “sleep driving” side effects of the Ambien that she used to go to sleep.

Sister Miller was reportedly wearing her blue habit along with her black veil at the time of the DUI incident. As a result of the conviction, the nun has been placed on administrative leave from Little Flower High School in Hunting Park. The Office of Catholic Education leadership notes that they are reviewing the case and that no specific actions have been taken against Sister Miller at this time.

“With the conclusion of court proceedings today, leadership from the Office of Catholic Education and Sister Kimberly’s religious congregation will review the matter further. No change has yet been made to her status.”

Sister Miller’s attorney Jeff Lindy hopes that the verdict will help spearhead change in New Jersey law to include defense of “pathological intoxication.” However, Lindy was more taken aback by the fact that his client’s testimony and that of the owner of Children’s Bookworld were discounted.

“I understand the Judge’s ruling that New Jersey doesn’t recognize the defense of pathological intoxication in DWI matters. If we appeal, perhaps this is the case where we can make some new law on that issue. But his ruling that he has credibility concerns about Sister Kim and her witness from Children’s Bookworld is really remarkable. The Judge said that he doesn’t believe the testimony of a nun and the owner of a children’s bookstore. I was stunned and in disbelief when I heard him say that. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

[Image via Shutterstock]