Can Kombucha Tea Cause You To Get a DUI?
In February 2017, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd was convicted of driving under the influence. As part of his sentence, he was given house arrest and ordered to self-administer breathalyzer tests. During his sentence, he failed a breathalyzer test, thereby violating the terms of his house arrest. He mounted what some saw as a surprising defense; he blamed his level of intoxication on a fermented tea drink called kombucha.
According to reports in June 2017, Floyd was found in violation of his house arrest with a blood alcohol content of 0.055. He was ordered to serve one day in jail, and then finish out the final five days of his house arrest. Floyd and his attorneys said that he had not consumed alcohol in the traditional sense, but had consumed several bottles of a kombucha tea drink. Now people are wondering if they can really get arrested for DUI after consuming beverages containing the tea. In most cases, it would be very difficult for this to occur.
How Much Alcohol Is In Kombucha?
According to science, the beverage contains a maximum 2 percent of alcohol. This comes from the fermentation process. Compare this amount of alcohol with what is contained in a typical beer, which is about 5 percent. For his story to check out, the wide receiver — who weighed more than 200 pounds and registered a blood alcohol content of 0.055 after sleeping — would have needed to consume 10 to 15 bottles of the drink during the three-and-a-half hour period before he fell asleep. He said he only drank four or five.
Other factors come into play in this particular situation. The tea is supposed to be refrigerated. If it is left out at room temperature, the alcohol content can rise slightly. If they aren’t refrigerated properly, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to have some kombucha beverages to reach the 3 percent alcohol mark. Floyd also said that he was drinking on an empty stomach.
It Is Technically Possible, But Not Likely
It is possible that Floyd could be telling the truth. For the beverage to have caused him to register such a high blood alcohol content, he would essentially have needed to leave it sitting out before he consumed it, drink a dozen bottles all night long, and have not eaten anything. This may have created a perfect storm.
The Vikings backed Floyd’s story. They say they encourage their players to drink kombucha tea for its health benefits. In fact, they seem to have it on tap in the team clubhouse. However, their support came with a hitch; if they found out Floyd was lying, they would cut him from the team immediately. He was not re-signed for the 2018 season.
Breathalyzer Tests: False Positives
Like any machine, a breathalyzer can always have issues. False positives do happen, but not on a regular basis. Certain things have been known to potentially cause a person to register as having alcohol in their bloodstream, even if they haven’t had a drop to drink.
Alcohol: Not the kind of alcohol you drink, but the kind that is in mouthwash and other breath-freshening products. If you had a swig of mouthwash before you were pulled over, you could very well have a false positive test.
Menthol: Sorbitol and menthol in products like cough drops, gum and mints can cause a false positive on breathalyzer machines.
Calibration: Breathalyzer machines must be calibrated on a schedule. Calibration is part of a stationery machine’s operation, but not a portable machine. If an officer doesn’t calibrate their portable breathalyzer unit, a person could blow a false positive.
Medication: Some medications, particularly those containing menthol, could skew the results of a breathalyzer test.
Georgia DUI Laws
It is illegal to drink and drive in Georgia, just like every other state in the nation. If you choose to drink and drive, you need to be aware that a breathalyzer result of 0.08 or greater means that you are operating your vehicle illegally.
Depending on how many times you have been convicted in the state previously, penalties for a driving under the influence conviction can vary. You may be sentenced to time behind bars, ordered to pay steep fines and even attend alcohol counseling and education sessions. Beyond court, you may experience difficulty maintaining your professional license, see your insurance premiums raised and have your good name sullied.
A DeKalb County DUI Lawyer Can Help
While drinking kombucha beverages could certainly cause someone to register a small amount of alcohol in their system, it would be highly unlikely for a person to be charged with driving under the influence after consuming a single beverage. However, if you are driving dangerously and have any amount of alcohol in your system, you could be charged with DUI.
If you do happen to be arrested for driving under the influence in DeKalb County, regardless of the type of beverage you have consumed, our team of criminal defense attorneys is here for you. We understand exactly what is at stake if you are convicted of your charges. We have many years of experience defending cases like yours in the local court system. We will put our knowledge to work for you, fighting tirelessly for your freedom. Call today to schedule a free case evaluation.