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Can the Police Link Kava Tea to a DUID Charge?

Across the country, the use of various sedative teas is on the rise. Kava bars with Polynesian décor are popping up in most metropolitan areas, selling kava, kratom, and kombucha teas. Often dubbed “sober bars,” these establishments rarely sell alcohol. The word “sober” may be, however, a bit of a misnomer. These teas absolutely have a calming, numbing, sedative effect on the brain and the body. While we don’t have many statistics on how they affect driving, one should still take caution when getting behind the wheel with one of these drinks.

If you’ve been drinking kava and the police pull you over, how could they use the drink against you? Depending on how egregious the driving offense is, police could potentially use kava as evidence in a DUID charge.

DUID Offenses

DUI charges deal primarily with alcohol use, and West Virginia uses a separate legal standard for driving under the influence of drugs (sometimes referred to as “DUID”).

Driving under the influence of narcotics is a chargeable offense whether the substance is legal or not. If someone takes too many legal, prescribed pain pills, the police can use that as evidence in a DUID case. DUID and DUI penalties begin at the same level. The accused can spend up to six months in jail and pay fines between $100 and $500. As people are charged with more DUI offenses, the penalties rise. After several accusations, the charge is elevated to a felony, and the accused can serve prison time. In contrast, multiple DUID charges are met with attempts to rehabilitate the offender. At two or more charges, the accused may be ordered into drug rehab and DUI education courses.

Kava and DUID Accusations

Essentially, the police are able to connect the use of any substance to a DUID charge. If you are pulled over for mildly speeding, it’s unlikely that police will want to search your car. Unless you have visible drug paraphernalia, a clearly open container, or other evidence the police can use as probable cause, they probably won’t ask you about your grey, cloudy kava drink in the cup holder.

However, police could assume that you were under the influence of something if your driving was particularly erratic and dangerous. Oftentimes, police will ask if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs when they pull you over, trying to trap you into a confession. You do not have to answer these questions. If you’ve been pulled over for reckless driving, and police see kava in your cup holder, do not tell them what it is. If police connect your driving behavior to a substance, they could take you in for a DUID. Only your confession can implicate you, as law enforcement currently does not test for sedative teas in the bloodstream. Stay quiet, and you may be able to avoid arrest. At that point, the police may have no choice but to simply ticket you or charge you with reckless driving. While that is also a serious charge, it carries far less complications than a DUI or DUID accusation.

If the authorities suspect that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, The Wagner Law Firm can help. Attorney Harley Wagner has years of experience fighting DUI and DUID charges. Call today at (304) 461-6000, or contact the firm online for a free consultation.

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