DUI charges against a NY woman have been dismissed after it has been found that her body brews its own alcohol.
A New York woman has been arrested and charged with DUI, but later it was discovered that she was not drunk. She was suffering from a rare disease known as ‘Auto-brewery syndrome’ in which the digestive system starts to brew its own alcohol.
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The woman, who was arrested, had a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. The judge in the town of Hamburg dismissed the drunken driving charges after evidence was presented that the woman had a rare medical condition called auto-brewery syndrome which causes a person’s blood alcohol level to spike.
Also known as gut fermentation syndrome, the extremely rare medical condition was first reported in the 1970s in Japan, but Americans were not introduced to the disease until 2013 when a 61 year old woman was experiencing debilitating drunkenness without drinking liquor.
The syndrome generates abnormal levels of yeast that converts common food carbohydrates into ethanol, making a human body a tiny little brewery. It causes a rise in blood alcohol level and the person affected by the disease can exhibit all the symptoms similar to someone who drank too much liquor including slurred words and confusion.
Surprisingly, the rare condition has been found in multiple patients. But for many, it might be nothing more than a convenient tale.
“At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. “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.”
Dr. Richard Peek, a professor of medicine and cancer biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told ABC News that the alternation of gut bacteria or microbiome has far reaching effects with auto-brewery syndrome being one of the most drastic results.
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"These observations show the importance of gastric microbiota or microbiome in altering functions," Peek said. "It really can regulate or cause disease such as irresistible bowel syndrome and it’s been linked to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, fatty liver."