The firm likes to highlight people inside the organization to show the talent behind the scenes. Today we will be hearing from Ruby Fa’Agau. Ruby is a law student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is an artist hailing from the bay area. She loves to help people and will be using her legal skills to advocate for people in the courtroom. She will be taking about Keva Tea leading to a DUI arrest.
I learned about kava in my childhood watching my Polynesian uncles drink kava tea, share laughter, talk about life, and preserve our culture.
A few years ago, I saw on the news that a man was arrested for a DUI after drinking kava. This surprised me because I wouldn’t normally associate tea with impaired judgment. However, I figured that kava had relaxing properties because the men seemed so relaxed when they drank it.
This raises a couple of issues. On one hand, kava is hard to detect for an officer because it’s a tea; it will not be picked up on an alcohol screening test. On the other hand, slow bodily movements and slow driving will reveal that the driver is under some type of influence.
I don’t drink kava myself, but I hope when others enjoy the tea that they are at home for the night.
Kava tea leads to DUI arrest for Boynton Beach man
A judge later threw out the charges
Napoleon Samuels mumbled barely above a whisper inside his SUV, propped up on a sidewalk in front of a concrete pillar, the engine revving.
He sweated profusely, deputes said. His body swayed like a willow tree whenever he tried to stand, and he alternated between staring up at the sky and falling asleep as he miserably failed one field sobriety test after another.
A Breathalyzer test showed no alcohol in his system. The 46-year-oldBoynton Beachman — several years off a prison stint for burglary and cocaine possession — swore he was clean.
Samuels told deputies all he’d had to drink that night were a couple cups of kava tea at a bar someone from his drug recovery group had suggested he try. The friend said the tea’s relaxing properties made it a good, clean way to take the edge off.
Though kava is not considered a controlled substance, deputies arrested Samuels anyway.
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Stephen Rapp threw out the case against him last week, but by then he’d spent eight months in jail on the probation violation caused by the new arrest and a charge of driving on a suspended license.
“It made me sick,” Samuels told Rapp of his kava experience. “I didn’t like it at all.”
Samuels’ arrest last year joined him to the rare group of people charged for driving under the influence of kava, a natural herb used by Pacific Islanders for centuries that has recently become the theme for trendy new bars cropping up across the country and especially in South
Published reports show several cases of kava DUI in California, but most were dismissed.
Most of those cases involved Pacific Islanders, who use the tea in traditional and religious ceremonies.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, kava is a perennial pepper shrub whose only presence in the U.S. is in Hawaii. Drinkers tout its ability to relieve anxiety, insomnia and menopausal symptoms, but in recent years there has been some debate as to whether it may cause liver damage.
The number of kava bars in South Florida has jumped recently, and there are now at least three such places in Palm Beach County, including Kavasutra, the Lake Worth bar Samuels said he visited the night of his arrest.
Jim Scianno manages the Purple Lotus Kava bar, which was the first of its kind in West Palm Beach. He says though it is possible to drink enough kava to impair motor skills, it’s not an easy feat.
“You’d have to have gallons of it,” Schianno said. “It hasn’t happened to anyone that’s come in here in the eight years we’ve been here.”
For Samuels, whose probation was reinstated, the end of his kava experience came with strict words from the judge.
“Don’t drink that tea anymore,” Rapp said.
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