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North Carolina Brings Attention to Auto Brewery Syndrome as a Defense in DUI Cases

North Carolina recently called attention to a rare but notable condition that can affect DUI cases:  auto-brewery syndrome. Although not many people suffer from the condition, it can cause unwarranted DUI arrests and convictions. While some courts throughout the country have been faced with the auto-brewery defense, it has not been widely established as a justification for a BAC above the legal limit. If you are charged with an Illinois DUI offense, it is prudent to meet with a proficient DUI defense attorney to discuss which defenses you may be able to assert.

Auto-Brewery Syndrome Explained

Reportedly, a North Carolina man was arrested in 2011 for driving while intoxicated. The man argued that he had not been drinking, but to no avail. In 2015, however, the man was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome, which is often known as gut fermentation syndrome. In essence, the syndrome causes certain people’s digestive systems to convert carbohydrates into alcohol. Thus, if a person with auto-brewery syndrome eats pasta or bread, the food is fermented in their guts and subsequently turns into alcohol. Accordingly, a person suffering from auto-brewery syndrome may have an elevated BAC level despite not consuming any alcohol.

Doctors who have analyzed auto-brewery syndrome have noted that people with the syndrome suffer the medical and legal effects of alcoholism, including drunk driving arrests and public intoxication. It is believed that the North Carolina man developed the syndrome after he took an antibiotic for an injury. Following his diagnosis, he was treated with anti-fungal medication and probiotics, and he has been symptom-free for about 18 months.

Auto-Brewery Syndrome as a Defense in Illinois

The Illinois courts have not ruled on the validity of auto-brewery syndrome as a defense in DUI cases. The statute that defines DUI offenses in Illinois states that a person can be convicted for operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level that is 0.08 percent or higher, or while under the influence of alcohol. The statute does not include any provisions regarding intent, however, or requiring a person to be aware of his or her intoxication in order to be found guilty of a DUI charge. Thus, even if a person who is charged with a DUI can prove that he or she did not consume alcohol, but his or her blood alcohol level was caused by auto-brewery syndrome, it is possible the person could still be convicted of DUI in Illinois.

Presumably, any Illinois court faced with auto-brewery syndrome as a defense in a DUI case would require the defendant to establish via medical records and expert testimony that the condition is valid and that the condition caused the defendant’s alleged intoxication, prior to considering whether the defense should result in a not guilty verdict.

Consult a Trusted Illinois DUI Attorney

If you are facing DUI charges in Illinois, it is in your best interest to consult a trusted DUI attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest and your options for pursuing a favorable outcome. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin at the Harvatin Law Offices, PC will work diligently to help you protect your rights. You can contact Mr. Harvatin at 217.525.0520 or through the form online to set up a free and confidential consultation.