Kombucha is a lightly fermented drink that has recently become trendy for its health benefits. But because the beverage is fermented, could it be safely consumed by a teenager before driving a vehicle? Peter M. Liss urges minors to avoid drinking kombucha and driving or be prepared to face underage DUI charges.
Kombucha’s Alcohol Content
Commercially prepared kombucha can contain anywhere from .5-2% alcohol and home brewed versions can contain much more. It is important for kombucha to be refrigerated or the alcohol content may increase as the product will continue to ferment. Generally speaking, minors cannot buy the product if it is over .5%, but many cashiers are unaware that the product contains alcohol and sell it to minors anyway. Additionally, some parents buy or make stronger kombuchas for their children. Lastly, the alcohol percentage stated on the bottle is often lower than what the product actually contains -Whole Foods even had to recall a batch when it was discovered to contain nearly six times what the label stated.
With the specific ingredients in kombucha though, the brew can ultimately only get up to around 3% alcohol content at most.
So Can Kombucha Get a Minor Drunk?
Assuming a minor drank quite a few kombuchas at 3% alcohol by volume in a short amount of time, a teen could absolutely get drunk on the substance, especially if she was particularly petite and didn’t eat before drinking. But most of the beverage’s fans aren’t drinking the strongest possible product, nor are they downing glass after glass. It’s unlikely even a light weight female on an empty stomach would really be drunk after one glass of kombucha with 1% alcohol.
Drinking Kombucha Before Driving
That being said, DUI defense attorneys warn minors to avoid drinking kombucha before driving. That’s because even if a minor isn’t remotely drunk, he could still violate the state’s zero tolerance law which prevents underage drivers from operating a car with a BAC of even .01%. That number is pretty easy to reach -even after drinking something as seemingly innocent as kombucha.
Of course, even an adult could get a DUI after drinking a few particularly strong glasses of the beverage, so it’s advisable to always drink even low-alcohol brews responsibly no matter what your age. Also, remember that the law doesn’t distinguish what causes the intoxication, so never try to defend yourself against drunk driving accusations by saying you were only drinking kombucha. Instead, ask to speak with your lawyer before you say anything to the police. Finally, it’s worth noting that if you already received a DUI and have an ignition interlock or alcohol monitoring device, it could be activated by the alcohol in kombucha.
If you or your child has been been accused of drunk driving, Peter Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by SK