A New York woman was charged with DWI in October 2014 but now she is free of all the charges after it was found that the woman was not drunk, rather she was suffering from Auto-Brewery Syndrome (ABS).
Reports of the US News and World on December 31 said, “The excuse may sound bogus, but elected Hamburg town Judge Walter Rooth found the woman’s claim compelling after she spent $7,000 working with a specialist to show her body sometimes meets the legal definition of drunkenness without actual alcohol intake”.
The 35-year-old woman is a teacher from the suburb of Hamburg, near Buffalo. The unnamed woman was stopped in October 2014 and was charged with DWI after another motorist called 911 and reported seeing a 2010 Toyota Corolla that was weaving all over the road.
Hamburg police officer Daniel Gallardo stopped the woman after being alerted by the motorist. The woman said she just had three drinks much earlier in the evening.
Officer Gallardo said the suspect exhibited glassy-bloodshot eyes and was even not able to speak properly. The officer said the woman was also driving on a flat tire, producing a large amount of smoke and a noticeable smell of burning rubber.
The woman’s even failed in the roadside sobriety test. The woman BAC level was so high that usually results after consuming 8 to 10 drinks, and is close the lethal levels.
The woman’s lawyer, defense attorney Joseph J. Marusak, described the case as bizarre and unusual and said her client is suffering from ABS. Marusak said ABS, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is something that affects only a tiny percentage of adults.
When a person has auto-brewery syndrome, their body brews alcohol, as crazy as that may sound. It is caused when an excess of gastrointestinal yeast converts common food carbohydrates into ethanol. While there is not much research on the syndrome, it is believed the process takes place in the small intestine, and it is not the same process as the gut fermentation that takes place in the large intestines to give our bodies the energy they need to function.
Dr. Richard Peek, a professor of medicine and cancer biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the cause of the symptoms is not fully understood although there is one likely culprit.
Peek said the alteration of the gut's bacteria, called the microbiome, has far-reaching effects with auto-brewery syndrome being one of the most drastic results.
While most people will not end up with a tiny "brewery" in their gut, Peek said anyone can face an alteration of their micrombiome, due to illness, antibiotics or other conditions.
Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this rare medical condition can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol. The process is believed to take place in the small bowel, and is vastly different from the normal gut fermentation in the large bowel that gives our bodies energy.
Because she blew a blood alcohol level of nearly 0.40, police procedure is to take the accused to a hospital, as that level is considered extremely life-threatening.
Instead of allowing his wife to be released as the hospital recommended based on her lack of drunken symptoms, the husband asked for tests to be run. Sure enough, Marusak says, the results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.30, hours and hours after her last drink. That prompted Marusak to do his own sleuthing.