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
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
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
I don’t drink kava myself, but I hope when
others enjoy the tea that they are at home for the night.
tea leads to DUI arrest for Boynton Beach man
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.
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,”
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