The woman was found to have a rare condition called "auto-brewery syndrome,” which makes her digestive system convert the food she eats into alcohol.
A woman charged with drunk driving after being four times over the legal limit has had the case against her dismissed. The woman from upstate New York actually has a rare condition that converts the food she eats into alcohol.
The woman was pulled over while driving her car. Police asked her to take a breathalyzer test, then arrested her for having a blood alcohol level of four times the legal limit. However, the woman was found to have a rare condition called "auto-brewery syndrome,” which makes her digestive system convert the food she eats into alcohol.
"She had no idea she had this condition. Never felt tipsy. Nothing,” AP reported her lawyer, Joseph Marusak, as saying.
Marusak declined to identify his client to the media, citing her innocence of the charges – which were subsequently dismissed by a Buffalo court after he was able to provide medical proof that the woman had high levels of yeast in her intestines, which were turning high-carbohydrate foods into alcohol.
"At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, AP reported. "But it's not that easy. Courts tend to be skeptical of such claims. You have to be able to document the syndrome through recognized testing."
Marusak got in touch with Dr. Anup Kanodia, who was able to eventually diagnose the woman with auto-brewery syndrome. While waiting to see her, the lawyer arranged for medics to monitor his client on days when she did not drink alcohol. They took several blood samples to monitor her blood alcohol levels.
"At the end of the day, she had a blood-alcohol content of .36 without drinking any alcoholic beverages," Marusak said. He said the woman also bought a breathalyzer and blew into it every night for 18 days, registering around .20 every time. The legal limit for driving in the state of New York is just .08.
The evidence was submitted by Marusak and the case against the woman was eventually dropped.
Although the lawyer declined to identify his client, the Buffalo News reported her as being a 35-year-old schoolteacher. The publication also quoted the arresting officer as saying that the woman had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, and that she failed several sobriety tests.