Published On: Fri, Jan 1st, 2016

DUI charges dropped after US woman proves body turns food into alcohol

The woman registered average blood-alcohol level of 0.36% without drinking; legal limit in New York is 0.08%
 beer-alcohol - woman Illustration 968496_1280

A woman from New York state was arrested while driving with a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. She then discovered she has a rare condition called “auto-brewery syndrome”, in which her body to turn food into alcohol, her lawyer Joseph Marusak said.,  the Guardian reports.

The rare condition causes high-carbohydrate foods to be converted to alcohol in the digestive system as a result of high levels of yeast in the intestinal tract.

Also known as ‘gut fermentation syndrome’, the condition was first discovered in Japan in the 1970’s.

Medial and legal experts in the United States say it is being used as a defence in drunk-driving cases more frequently as it becomes more well-diagnosed.

“At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card, ” the Guardian quotes Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University. “But it’s not that easy. Courts tend to be sceptical of such claims. You have to be able to document the syndrome through recognised testing.”

Marusak had his client’s blood alcohol levels monitored by a nurse and a phycian’s assistant while she waited for a diagnosis.

“At the end of the day, she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.36 percent without drinking any alcoholic beverages, ” the Guardianquotes Marusak as saying, adding that his client also registered an average blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent during nightly breathalizer tests.

In New York, the legal blood-alcohol level is 0.08 percent.

Marusak said his client, unlike some others who have been afflicted with the condition, did not seek help as she never felt drunk.

The woman, whose identity remains confidential under medical privacy laws, has been prescribed a low-carbohydrate diet.

Her case was dismissed on December 9, the Guardian says, and she is free to drive without restrictions.

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