A Look at Auto-Brewery Syndrome

Glass of BeerThere have been stories all over the news recently about a woman who, a year after being arrested for DUI, had her charges dropped because she suffered from “auto-brewery syndrome.” While she originally had a blood alcohol content over four times the legal limit, the judge ruled she was not at fault for it. Her condition makes her body itself create alcohol; she doesn’t have to have a drop to drink in order to become drunk.

On the day of her arrest, she met her husband for drinks and food. She consumed four drinks over the course of six hours. In combination with food, the average person would not feel intoxicated after that. However, the way she was driving, it would seem she had consumed a gallon of alcohol before getting behind the wheel. She blew a tire on her way home, and an observer called the police to assist her when they noticed she was struggling to change it. When the officer arrived on scene, he noticed her acting strange and had her take a Breathalyzer — resulting in a BAC of nearly .40.

The woman was taken to the hospital, since a level that high generally leads to alcohol poisoning. However, after hours of observation, the medical staff let her go, since she really didn’t seem too drunk. Later, batteries of tests were taken, and over a 12-hour period of zero alcohol consumption, her BAC was still over the legal limit. Thus, her case was dismissed, though the district attorney is appealing that decision.

So what is happening? With auto-brewery syndrome, the small intestine traps yeasts from foods. This causes carbs to be fermented into alcohol, which is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. For those with auto-brewery syndrome, the body becomes accustomed to this raised alcohol level, and many walk around legally drunk without knowing it.

The woman in this story is now on a strict low-carb diet to limit the amount of alcohol her body creates. In addition, the reason she was able to have her charges dropped is because she was unaware of her condition. It is no longer a valid excuse for her if she is pulled over for drunk driving.

While you may not be suffering from auto-brewery syndrome, there are defenses if you get pulled over for DUI in Pennsylvania. You do not have to take your conviction without any say in the matter. If you need legal counsel, contact us today. Your initial consultation is free; we will review the facts of your case and make recommendations for your next move.