When authorities found an ex-con behind the wheel, behaving in a manner they felt was erratic, they arrested him, despite his contentions that all he had to drink was kava tea, the Palm Beach Post reported.
It wasn’t until a judge heard the case that the charges against the 46-year-old man were dropped — but by then he’d spent eight months in jail on a probation violation. It’s a cautionary tale about the need for an experienced and aggressive West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer whenever you are facing charges of drunk driving in Broward or Palm Beach counties. And about the need to keep charges off your criminal record in order to avoid the consequences of a probation violation.
Too often, defendants hear probation and they take the deal. It’s worth mentioning that all of Lindsay Lohan’s legal problems stem from probation violations in the wake of a 2007 drunk driving conviction. In fact, it’s not unusual for a defendant with experience in the criminal justice system to request jail time rather than to attempt to comply with the terms and conditions of a lengthy period of probation.
A breathalyzer showed no alcohol in the defendant’s system. He was not given the benefit of the doubt, in part because of an old burglary and cocaine possession conviction. He told police all he’d had to drink was kava tea. It’s not the first time authorities have attempted to charge someone with driving under the influence of the tea, which is a natural herb used by Pacific Islanders. It’s being sold in an increasing number of trendy bars in South Florida.
The Food and Drug Administration reports the tea is touted for its ability to relieve anxiety, insomnia and symptoms of menopause. There are currently at least three Kava bars operating in Palm Beach County.
Tea aside, authorities are becoming more aggressive in making arrests for driving under the influence of drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported late last year that 1 in 5 of the fatally injured drivers tested for drugs in 2009, tested positive for the presence of narcotics. As a result, they are encouraging officers to crackdown on drivers driving under the influence of both illegal and prescription narcotics.
“Every driver on the road has a personal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle with full and uncompromised attention on the driving task,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Today’s report provides a warning signal that too many Americans are driving after having taken drugs, not realizing the potential for putting themselves and others on the highway at risk.”
The problem here is that many narcotics remain in a person’s system for days or even weeks after consumption. Marijuana, for instance, can remain behind for up to 30 days — long past the point where a driver’s skills are impacted. Even Strickland was forced to acknowledge that: “Drug involvement does not necessarily imply impairment or indicate that drug use was the cause of the crash.”
But it may be enough to lead to unfair or unwarranted charged of driving under the influence in South Florida.
If you are facing DUI charges in Broward or Palm Beach counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.