If you have recently been charged with intoxicated driving when you did not believe you were drunk, you may be suffering from auto-brewery syndrome. This condition was previously unknown, but it is gaining publicity after CNN reported that a New York judge dismissed one woman’s DUI following evidence showing that she suffered from this rare disease. Here is what you need to know about dealing with auto-brewery syndrome.
How it happens
Inside the digestive systems of most people, bacteria and yeast particles are flushed out before they are able to flourish and grow. Whether the reason is genetic or environmental, the guts of some people allow yeast to continue growing. Scientists have found an abundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as brewer’s yeast, in the digestive systems of patients suspected of having auto-brewery syndrome. Since this is the same yeast that is used to make beer, as the person consumes sugars or other carbs, the bacteria ingests the food and produces ethanol, the same alcohol that can cause drunkenness. Thus, the person can register high blood alcohol concentrations even when they have not had a drop to drink.
Blood alcohol levels
When the woman in New York was pulled over for a flat tire, she took a breathalyzer test and registered at almost 0.4 percent BAC, a level that is nearly five times the legal limit. She was taken to the hospital and retested hours after her last drink, but still had a blood alcohol level of 0.3. A 12-hour monitoring was arranged and researchers watched as her BAC climbed to over 0.3 percent simply from the foods she ate.
Lack of side effects
The reason that many do not realize they have this syndrome is the lack of symptoms. They are considered highly functioning alcoholics because their bodies are used to constantly raised BAC levels and able to operate fairly normally. Most do not find out that they have the condition until they are pulled over or taken to the hospital for a different reason and a blood alcohol test is administered.
If you suspect that you may be a victim of auto-brewery syndrome, an attorney can work with your doctor to arrange for additional testing and monitoring. Proof of the condition can be evidence to dismiss a DUI charge , as it was for the woman in New York. Contact an attorney today to fight for your rights in court and assist you in getting help to manage this rare condition.