The president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has told ABC News that an officer smelled alcohol on the breath of Rep. Patrick Kennedy after he crashed into a barricade early Thursday morning.
"He did seem to be intoxicated based on the odor of alcohol and his appearance," said Lou Cannon, who was not on the scene but described the assessment made by officers who were there.
Kennedy has denied any drinking. He said he was "disoriented" after taking prescription sleep medication and an anti-nausea drug.
At 2:45 a.m. Thursday morning, Kennedy was driving his Ford Mustang with the lights off, had a near miss with a Capitol police cruiser, and then slammed into a security barricade.
Police said Kennedy exited his vehicle, was observed to be staggering, and identified himself as a member of Congress. He said he was late for a vote, though the last vote had been hours earlier.
A higher-ranking Capitol police officer instructed the other officers not to administer a field sobriety test, Cannon said. Kennedy was then reportedly driven home by police.
The news of the accident circulated around Washington late Thursday when a letter from Cannon to the chief of police was made public, complaining Kennedy had been given special treatment when senior Capitol police officials did not allow a sobriety test.
"I would say within law enforcement that there is probably concern that consideration was given to a member of Congress that would not have been afforded a normal citizen on the street," Cannon said.
Kennedy's office released a statement early Thursday evening in which the Rhode Island Democrat declared, "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident."
"I never asked for any preferential treatment," Kennedy told reporters.
In a second statement released late Thursday night, Kennedy said he had taken anti-nausea sleep medication prescribed by the Capitol physician.
"Wednesday evening, I returned to my home on Capitol Hill and took the prescribed amount of Phenergan and Ambien," Kennedy said in the statement. "Some time around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote. Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication."
ABC's Claire Shipman reported this story for "Good Morning America."