DWI charges against a woman in Buffalo, New York, were dismissed based on a surprising defense: “Her body is a brewery.” The woman’s blood-alcohol level was recorded at over four times the legal limit when it should have been between .01 and .05. Her rare condition was not discovered until after her arrest.
Her attorney Joseph Marusak submitted medical evidence of the woman’s “auto-brewery syndrome,” which converts high-carbohydrate foods into alcohol. The evidence prompted the New York judge to dismiss her DWI.
Dr. Richard Peek, a professor of medicine and biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has said that the cause of the symptoms is not fully understood. However, it is likely to be based on elevated levels of yeast in the GI tract. When yeast ingest a meal high in carbohydrates, they metabolize the carbs into ethanol. One of the more radical results of this phenomenon, which alters the gut’s bacteria, is auto-brewery syndrome.
Peek said the condition demonstrates the significance of gastric microbiota in regulating or causing diseases such as IBS, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and fatty liver.
Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, was first documented in Japan in the 1970s. The first U.S. case was documented in 2013 in Texas, when Professor Barbara Cordell released a study involving a man who experienced episodes of extreme drunkenness without consuming any liquor. Experts report that auto-brewery syndrome is being raised more often as a DUI defense as the condition becomes more widely known. However, it is not a free pass, experts assure, since judges are skeptical and typically require firm evidentiary support.
Marusak reached out to Cordell regarding his client after she was arrested in October 2014. Cordell referred him to Dr. Anup Kanodia in Columbus, Ohio. During the wait for the appointment, Marusak hired nurses to monitor his client on a day during which she consumed no alcohol. At the day’s end, she had a BAC of .36 without consuming any alcohol. The legal limit in New York is .08. Kanodia eventually diagnosed the woman with auto-brewery syndrome and put her on a low-carb diet to bring the situation under control.
Marusak declined to name his client, citing medical confidentiality laws. The case has been sealed. Local news reports described her as a mid-30s school teacher and quoted the arresting officers to indicate that on the day of the incident, she had red eyes, garbled her speech, and failed numerous sobriety tests.
While many individuals described by Cordell sought help because they felt drunk and didn’t know why, Marusak said his client had no idea she had the condition. She never even felt tipsy.
Her charges were dismissed on December 9th, and she is currently free to drive without restrictions.
If you have been charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, or you need a driver’s license, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing revoked drivers before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-829-8513.
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New Law Regarding Four-Time DUI Offenders Effective January 1, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, December 21, 2015
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