Texas DWI Defense Attorney Talks about Auto Brewery Syndrome

A DWI case from New York is getting nationwide attention because it involves a rare medical condition which causes the people who have it to become legally intoxicated after consuming ordinary food and beverages. Auto-brewery syndrome, or gut fermentation syndrome, as it is sometimes called, has only been diagnosed in fifty to one hundred individuals so far. The condition occurs when an individual has so much yeast in their intestinal tract that whatever they eat or drink is fermented into alcohol. It is possible that there are other people who are affected by the condition who are not yet aware that they have it.

This case started in the same manner as many other DWI cases do, with a traffic stop that led to an arrest after the defendant’s blood alcohol content registered as .33 percent on a Breathalyzer test. She also had some trouble with the field sobriety tests, but not nearly as much as one would expect her to have given her blood alcohol level at the time. Many people with a blood alcohol level of .33 would be falling down drunk, but because individuals with auto-brewery syndrome develop a high tolerance for elevated blood alcohol levels due to alcohol production in their bodies, the defendant was able to function in a close to normal manner.

When the defendant was arrested, her blood alcohol level was more than four times New York State’s legal limit. What’s more, the defendant had consumed alcoholic beverages earlier in the day. However, when the defendant and her husband told her attorney how many drinks she had consumed during the day and when she had consumed them, it did not seem as though her blood alcohol would have been anywhere near as high as it was at the time of her arrest. The defendant’s attorney did some research regarding possible causes of elevated blood alcohol, and in doing so he came upon a description of auto-brewery syndrome.

In order to prove that the defendant’s elevated blood alcohol level was caused by a medical condition and not by consuming alcoholic beverages, her attorney had to gather and present medical evidence to support her claim. One type of evidence that was presented were blood alcohol readings for the defendant that were taken on eighteen separate occasions subsequent to her arrest on days that she had not consumed alcohol. On nearly all of those occasions, the defendant’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. Because the defendant had consumed alcohol on the day that she was arrested, a pharmacologist presented evidence that showed that the amount of alcohol that she had consumed at the time that she had consumed it would not result in a blood alcohol content of .33 at the time of her arrest if her body had metabolized the alcoholic beverages in the same manner as the body of a woman the same size as her who did not have auto-brewery syndrome. Fortunately for the defendant, the medical evidence presented a clear explanation of why her blood alcohol level was as high as it was when she was arrested, and the judge dismissed the charges against her.

Auto-brewery syndrome is a rare medical condition, so this case from New York is unlikely to help most DWI defendants. However, a Texas DWI Defense Attorney can help you present your best defense against DWI charges. Call the office of Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law today, at 214-521-4567, to learn more.


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