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Understanding Kratom and Its Implications for DWI Cases in Texas

The rise of kratom use in the United States has triggered legal and medical debates across the board. Texas, with its stringent DWI laws, is no exception. Before diving into the legal implications, understanding the science behind kratom is crucial.

What is Kratom?

Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree from Southeast Asia. Its leaves house compounds like mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine that have unique psychotropic effects, modulating our neuroreceptors and influencing our nervous system.

Pharmacology of Kratom

Kratom’s active compounds interact with opioid receptors in the brain. At low doses, kratom acts on delta receptors, producing stimulant effects. Users might feel increased energy, alertness, and sociability. However, at higher doses, kratom targets mu receptors, similar to opioids, causing sedation, euphoria, and decreased pain.

The variable effects are due to the biphasic nature of kratom – acting as a stimulant in low doses and a sedative in higher doses. This biphasic action is due to the differential binding of kratom’s alkaloids to the various opioid receptors at different concentrations.

Metabolism and Detection

Kratom's primary alkaloids undergo extensive metabolism in the liver. The presence of these metabolites in blood or urine samples could indicate kratom consumption. However, given kratom's legal status, standardized tests for roadside detection aren't widespread.

Kratom and Driving: The Real Risks

Science suggests that kratom’s sedative effects, particularly at high doses, might impair driving. Slowed reaction times, reduced motor coordination, and drowsiness are potential side effects. These impairments are analogous to those seen in drivers under the influence of opioids or certain sedative medications.

The Challenge of Quantifying Impairment

Unlike alcohol, which has a clear blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold for impairment, kratom lacks such standardized metrics. The metabolites' presence doesn't always equate to impairment, as kratom's effects can vary significantly among individuals due to genetic differences in metabolism, tolerance, and other factors. Additionally, the standard DPS blood analysis does not test for Kratom. If you were impaired on Kratom, it is likely that the police, and the prosecution, will never actually know. They will likely assume intoxication (which doesn’t really hold up in court), but will not have a qualitative or quantitative way to measure that alleged intoxication.

Legal Implications in Texas

Texas law is unequivocal: driving under any substance causing impairment is illegal. Kratom, due to its biphasic effects, can be particularly challenging in court. The lack of standardized testing, combined with the variability of effects, makes for complex legal scenarios.

Why Expert Legal Representation is Paramount

Kratom-related DWIs are uncharted waters for many legal professionals. Yet, at Zendeh Del & Associates, PLLC, we are Galveston DWI lawyers who prioritize staying informed on evolving drug trends. Jonathan Zendeh Del's recognition as a top-tier DWI lawyer, and DWI Super Lawyer, in Texas reflects our commitment to understanding the nuances of such cases.


As kratom continues its ambiguous dance between being a natural remedy and a potential road hazard, the need for clear understanding and expert representation grows. For anyone navigating these complexities in Texas, expert guidance is indispensable. If you have been arrested for DWI in Galveston County, call us for help. We are experts in the field. Call (409) 740-1111 today.