Across the nation, the use of mood-altering teas is rising in popularity. Many coffee and tea houses now offer kava, kratom, and kombucha as a regular part of their menu. Consumers typically don’t consider them drugs, and kava spots are often called “sober bars.”
The fact is, these teas are mood-altering substances. Kava and kratom have separate effects. Kava tends to produce a sedative effect. It can mellow someone out to the point of being numb, both mentally and physically. Kratom tends to be an upper for people, creating an energetic alertness.
For now, both substances are completely legal. There are very few studies on how they affect drivers, but kava use has been linked to car accidents. This brings us to the matter at hand: If these teas affect you mentally, and you are found drinking one while driving, could you be arrested for a DUID (driving under the influence of drugs)? Depending on the situation, the answer is, “yes.”
DUID Arrests in Ohio
Ohio police are given wide authority to make an OVI (operating a vehicle impaired) arrest. If they even suspect you of driving under the influence, they can make an arrest. The law even has a “no test” category, allowing a conviction without hard evidence. If the authorities conclude that a mood-altering tea affected your ability to drive, they could arrest you.
What Is the Evidence That Kava or Kratom Impaired Your Driving?
Imagine you are driving along the highway, and you suddenly drop your cup of kava. Distracted, you try to catch it and swerve into the next lane. You quickly right yourself, feeling fortunate that no harm was done. That’s when you see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.
Your behavior is their first bit of evidence. When the police see reckless driving on the road, they try to discover if it was the result of drugs or alcohol. They will begin scrutinizing your behavior, looking for signs of inebriation. If you’ve been drinking kava or kratom, you could appear more sedate or more hyper than usual.
They will ask leading questions like, “how much have you had to drink,” attempting to trap you into a confession. Seeing your kava in the cupholder, they may ask, “what’s in the cup?” If you tell them it’s kava, that may be all they need to connect your swerving to your drink. This is the next step in their charge against you, your confession.
Protecting Yourself from a DUID Accusation
Remember, one of the most precious rights in our system is the right to remain silent. It is so important, it’s the first right stated in the Miranda warning. If you are pulled over, don’t tell the police anything. There are some standard questions you should answer, such as your name, but beyond that, don’t give them anything else to work with.
DUID Penalties in Ohio
Recall the scenario above, where, distracted, you swerved into another lane. At worst, the police could accuse you of reckless driving. This is a serious charge, and if they choose to arrest you, go along with it. Stay quiet, and contact a lawyer as soon as you’re able.
Giving the police reason to believe you were impaired is much worse. In every state, DUI and DUID charges are severe. Even if they appear as minor misdemeanors on your record, they carry heavy penalties that seriously affect your daily life.
Ohio DUI and DUID penalties:
- First offense: jail time of 3 to 180 days; fines from $375 to $1,075; license suspension of 15 days to 3 years; possible use of restricted plates; possible installation of an ignition interlock device; possible court-ordered alcohol assessment
- Second offense: jail time of 10 to 180 days; fines from $525 to $1,625; license suspension of 45 days to 7 years; mandatory use of restricted plates; mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device; mandatory court-ordered alcohol assessment; vehicle impounded for 90 days
- Third offense: jail time of 30 days to 1 year; fines from $850 to $2,750; license suspension of 6 months to 12 years; mandatory use of restricted plates; mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device; mandatory court-ordered alcohol assessment; mandatory court-ordered alcohol monitoring, if allowed to continue driving; vehicle impounded for 90 days, possibly taken from you indefinitely
- Fourth offense (or more): jail time of 60 days to 3 years; fines from $1350 to $10,500; license suspension of 3 years to lifetime; mandatory use of restricted plates; mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device; mandatory court-ordered alcohol assessment; mandatory court-ordered alcohol monitoring if allowed to continue driving; vehicle impounded for 90 days, possibly taken from you indefinitely
Each of the penalties above represents a “no testing arrest,” which would be the charge in a DUI involving kava or kratom.
If you’ve been accused of driving under the influence, call us today for a free consultation. We have a skilled team of attorneys who can prepare a credible defense. You can reach us online or by phone at (937) 403-9033.