The Slatest

Judge Dismisses New York Woman’s DWI Because Her Body Brews Its Own Alcohol

A woman walks the white line during a field sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint December 15, 2006 in Miami, Florida.  

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

An upstate New York woman was sure she hadn’t had too much to drink when she was pulled over late last year after having three drinks over six hours while visiting with her parents. But during the 35-year-old schoolteacher’s drive home, a local police officer pulled her over after a 9-1-1 call from another driver reported she was weaving all over the road. During the stop, the driver’s eyes were bloodshot, her speech slurred, and her car billowed smoke and smelled of burning rubber, the officer reported. The cop gave the woman a Breathalyzer and her blood alcohol content registered a whopping .33 percent, four times the legal limit. Textbook driving under the influence, case closed. Right?

In the face of indisputable evidence, the woman and her lawyer mounted an improbable defense, explaining that the woman had a rare, undiagnosed condition called “auto-brewery syndrome” where her body internally brewed alcohol all on its own. The condition is also known as gut fermentation syndrome whereby “high levels of yeast in her intestines fermented high-carbohydrate foods into alcohol,” according to the Associated Press. The result: Eating made her drunk.

The woman’s lawyer, in order to help prove she suffered from the syndrome, “arranged to have two nurses and a physician’s assistant monitor his client for a day to document she drank no alcohol, and to take several blood samples for testing,” according to the AP. “[The lawyer] said the woman also bought a Breathalyzer and blew into it every night for 18 days, registering around .20 every time [despite not drinking].” The judge bought the defense and dismissed the DWI charges earlier this month. The woman was prescribed a low-carbohydrate diet to keep her sober and is able to drive again without restriction. The county District Attorney says it will appeal the judge’s ruling.