Can I Get a DUI in Arizona for Driving After Using Kratom?

There are several new “kratom” cafes and shops in Tucson. Before you try out one of these new places, you should know that if you are under the influence of kratom and your driving is impaired, it is possible to get a DUI or reckless driving charge in Arizona.

What is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) comes from the leaves of a tree that grows in Southeast Asia. It is not on the DEA list of controlled substances, but it is illegal to possess in some states and in some other countries. It is currently legal in Arizona, but Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the sale of kratom to individuals under 18.

Kratom is sold in capsule form but is also served in teas and coffees. The FDA released a statement warning that there is no evidence that kratom is an effective treatment for any medical condition. The FDA also warns of the potentially lethal side effects of kratom, especially when combined with opioids, other prescription drugs, or alcohol and there have been 91 deaths in the U.S. associated with kratom use.

Kratom is not an opioid but it is sometimes used to self-treat opioid addiction and chronic pain. It is also used recreationally, as it can produce both sedative and stimulative effects. For this reason, kratom use can impair your driving.

What Charges Could I Face If I Am Caught Driving After Using Kratom?

Since kratom is not an illegal or prescription-only drug, you could only be convicted of impaired driving, after using kratom, if you exhibited signs of impaired driving. If a police officer observes driving behaviors that give the officer reasonable suspicion that you are too impaired to drive or observes you violate any traffic law, the police officer can pull you over. Then, if the officer has probable cause to believe you are an impaired driver, the officer can arrest you for impaired driving. Similar to an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, an officer would consider your driving behavior, your demeanor, and possibly your performance on field sobriety tests when deciding whether the officer has enough evidence to arrest you.

Would Kratom Show Up if Police Tested My Blood?

It is possible to detect kratom in a blood test, but whether or not your blood will be tested for kratom depends on what kind of blood test the police department requests. Since kratom is a legal substance and there is no set level at which a person is considered impaired, the presence of kratom in your blood, combined with your driving behavior, could be enough for you to be convicted of DUI. An experienced DUI attorney can review the results of your blood test and determine whether your blood was tested for kratom and if so, how much was present in your system.

Even if your blood does not test positive for an impairing substance, you could still be convicted of reckless driving based on your driving behaviors. While a reckless driving conviction is not quite as damaging as a DUI, many employers, government officials, and universities are aware of the fact that reckless driving convictions sometimes arise from an incident of impaired driving. Therefore, even a reckless driving conviction can have serious collateral consequences.

The consequences of an impaired driving conviction can be devastating and it is never a good idea to drive after ingesting a substance that could alter your ability to react to situations while you are behind the wheel, even if the substance is legal.

There are not many cases in Arizona of people being accused of driving impaired after using kratom, so if you have been accused of driving while impaired after using this substance, an experienced criminal defense attorney can research the relevant case law and give you informed advice about your options.

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