DWI Charges Dismissed Against New York “Brewery” Woman
A surprising defense resulted in the dismissal of DWI charges against a Buffalo, New York woman: her body literally acts as a brewery. Her unusual medical condition was not uncovered until after her arrest, which was prompted by her BAC coming in at more than four times the state’s limit when it should have registered between .01 to .05.
Her defense attorney introduced evidence of the driver’s “auto-brewery syndrome,” which causes the conversion of high-carb foods into alcohol. This evidence is what led to the judge on the case dismissing the DWI charge.
What Causes Auto-Brewery Syndrome?
Vanderbilt University Medical Center Professor of Medicine and Biology Dr. Richard Peek has said the cause of these symptoms is still not fully understood. The leading theory is that people with this syndrome have higher levels than normal of yeast in their GI tracts. When yeast comes into contact with a high-carb meal, it metabolizes those carbs into ethanol. This alters the bacteria in the gut and can lead to auto-brewery syndrome.
This syndrome, also called “gut fermentation syndrome,” was first recorded in Japan in the 1970s, but the first US case didn’t appear until 2013. Barbara Cordell, Dean of Nursing at Texas’ Panola College, published a study that year about her experience with a man who seemed to get drunk despite not drinking any alcohol, as covered by the New York Post.
A Sky-High BAC Without Drinking a Drop
The New York woman’s defense attorney contacted Cordell about his client after she was arrested for DWI in October of 2014. Cordell referred the attorney to Dr. Anup Kanodia of Ohio. While waiting for his client’s appointment with the Ohio doctor, the attorney hired medical professionals to monitor her over the course of a day during which she didn’t consume any alcohol. By the end of that day, she tested for a BAC of .36. She was later diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome and put on a low-carb diet to help ease her symptoms.
Medical confidentially laws have prevented the woman from being named publicly, but local news reports indicated she is a teacher in her mid-30s. Her arresting officers alleged that she showed signs of intoxication when she was arrested, including red eyes and garbled speech, and she failed multiple sobriety tests.
An Arrest Isn’t Always What It Seems
The Buffalo woman’s case illustrates that a DWI or DUI arrest isn’t always what it seems on first appearance. Issues that are not related to intoxication, such as allergies and some medical conditions, can appear to be drunkenness to police officers. If you’re charged with DUI or DWI, it’s important to seek the help of experienced Springfield IL DUI lawyers so you can explore all the possible defenses in your case.