Woman Charged With DUI Blames "Auto-Brewery" Syndrome

by
Kate Brown
A rare syndrome is allegedly the reason one woman was charged with a DUI when she blew a blood alcohol level over four times the legal limit while seeming perfectly sober.

Have you ever heard of auto-brewery syndrome?

Apparently, this rare syndrome is the reason that one woman was charged with a DUI when she blew a blood alcohol level over four times the legal limit after having just four drinks in six hours — something that would normally cause a blood alcohol level between 0.01 and 0.05.

It all started when she went out to dinner with her husband and had approximately four drinks between the hours of noon and 6 p.m.

"Her husband drives to meet friends," attorney Joseph Marusak said, via CNN, "and she is driving home. She gets a flat close to home but doesn't want to change the tire so keeps on driving. Another driver sees her struggling with the car and calls it in as an accident."

Marusak "knew something was amiss" when the hospital she was taken to "released her immediately because she wasn't exhibiting any symptons." 

This prompted an internet search which brought up the question of auto-brewery syndrome. 

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"I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case," Marusak said.

This extremely rare medical condition is caused when an abnormal amount of yeast builds up in the small intestines and converts common carbohydrates into ethanol. 

"I'm in touch with about 30 people who believe they have this same syndrome, about 10 of them are diagnosed with it," said Panola College Dean of Nursing Barbara Cordell, who has studied the syndrome for years. "They can function at alcohol levels such as 0.30 and 0.40 when the average person would be comatose or dying. Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how they can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking." 

Despite the fact that the case was dismissed because of her newly-diagnosed medical condition, Marusak says it's not over yet. 

"I've heard the DA's office says they plan to appeal. I'll know more by the middle of January."

For now, Marusak's client is treating her condition with anti-fungal medications along with a yeast-free diet with absolutely no sugar, no alcohol and very low carbs.

Banner Image Credit: Chris Benseler/Flickr

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