A woman in the United States has escaped a drink-driving charge — after proving that her body is a natural “brewery.”
The woman, who has not been named, was arrested in New York state in 2014 after being pulled over for erratic driving and found to have a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. But despite reportedly having slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, she insisted that she had had no more than three drinks in the six hours before she was arrested.
At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card. But it’s not that easy
The woman, said to be a 35-year-old school teacher, was referred for medical tests which revealed that even after a day drinking no alcohol at all she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.36 per cent compared with the New York “drunkenness” threshold of 0.08 per cent.
She was subsequently diagnosed with a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome, in which yeast in the intestines ferments carbohydrate into alcohol, according to her lawyer, Joseph Marusak. The drunk-driving charges were dismissed after Marusak presented medical research to the court. The woman is now free to drive without restrictions, despite her condition.
Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, was first documented in the 1970s in Japan, and medical and legal experts in the U.S. say it is being used more frequently in drink driving cases.
“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. You have to be able to document the syndrome through recognized testing.”