Will Kava Set Off a Breathalyzer?

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Drinking kava has an array of beneficial effects. One thing you will notice when drinking it is the calming euphoria. This is especially true the more kava you drink in a night. Drinking too much can cause impairment so it makes one wonder, would kava actually set off a breathalyzer?

If you were to get pulled over when driving after being out at the kava bar and get asked to do a PBT (preliminary breathalyzer test) don’t worry, kava won’t set one off. However, three things that could actually set one off despite you only drinking kava are spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, or even medications.

Unlike alcohol, which is strictly prohibited to drink and drive in the United States, kava currently has no restrictions when it comes to driving. All of us here at Kava-Bula do a great job of knowing our personal limits. You just never know when you could get pulled over by a cop, so it is always best to stay on the safe side just in case.

The good news is that kava will not set off a breathalyzer if you are pulled over. The reason is that kava does not contain alcohol. Staying within the suggested serving limit is always wise because it is possible for kava to cause impairment if drinking an excessive amount.

This information will be especially useful if you have to use the at-home breathalyzer commonly known as an interlock device. Even though kava won’t set off a breathalyzer on its own, let’s take a closer look at three examples of substances that could set one off and why.

Example #1: Spicy Foods

Believe it or not, certain foods will set off a breathalyzer. One of which is spicy foods. You gotta wonder, why spicy foods would set one off. Well, the reason why is that when your body is metabolizing spicy food, it creates methane gas after it’s digested.

The more spicy food you consume, the more your body will generate methane gases. So this heightened level of this methane gas will set off a breathalyzer. Makes you think to maybe cut back on those buffalo chicken wings.

This is also important to note that spicy foods could actually set off a false positive reading with your interlock device even with the slightest amount of spicy food. Another thing to note is foods such as sugary baked goods could set one off because of the sugars turning into alcohol as well as the yeast.

Alongside spicy food and sugary baked goods bring us to our next example.

Example #2: Caffeinated drinks

Something to notice at certain kava bars is the variations of kava shots. Some options will have concentrated doses, some are coffee-infused, while others contain a variation of an energy drink. Some of these are mixed or chased by energy drinks. Although the kava in these concoctions won’t set off a breathalyzer, the caffeine will.

High-level energy drinks set off breathalyzers due to the trace amounts of ethanol. It is said that even small amounts could trigger a breathalyzer to go off. This is something to bare in mind when drinking energy-infused kava drinks.

I personally wouldn’t suggest mixing the two. It seems almost contradictory if you ask me, but different strokes for different folks. Everyone reacts differently, so I am not trying to tell people what to do. I am simply expressing my opinion and giving a helpful suggestion.

What you choose for how you want to feel is one thing. Our final example of what people would least expect to set off a breathalyzer may come as a surprise, even though you are just drinking kava.

Example #3: Medication

This may come as a surprise to you as it did to me. Medications, as well as some over-the-counter medications, actually can set off breathalyzers. As I mentioned earlier, kava won’t set one off on its own but some medications will.

This is also something to note that mixing cough/cold medications with kava may not be a very good idea. The reason is that mixing cough suppressant with kava could cause some serious impairment. It is important to be aware of this if you are driving because not only could you get pulled over, a breathalyzer could go off.

Now there aren’t any studies out there that directly state not to mix the two, this is going off of common sense. Kava can be hard on your liver, especially if mixed with alcohol. It is important to be aware that certain medications that are also metabolized in the liver shouldn’t be mixed when drinking kava.

Medications such as anti-anxiety agents, Phenothiazine medications, and diuretics shouldn’t be mixed with kava for the sake of your liver. Albuterol, budesonide, salmeterol, and other medications are some that may actually set off a breathalyzer.

These are all things to keep in mind especially if you have to use a breathalyzer regularly.  


Well, there you have it, three examples that could set off a breathalyzer even if you are only drinking kava as a means to unwind. Commonly, some alcoholics will start to drink kava. If they have DUI sometimes they have to take breathalyzers regularly.

If this is the case for you, I hope that you utilize this information. The last thing you want is to wonder in frustration why your interlock device is going off. The team here at Kava-Bula wants to look out for our readers, so we hope this information helps anyone in these circumstances.

Knowledge is power and we will continue to keep you updated on all things kava related. If you like what you have read be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter and tell your friends. There is something for every reader to enjoy.

Till next time my friends. Always remember to drink well and live well. Bula!


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