A New York woman’s body brews alcohol, and since she was able to prove it, Judge Walter Rooth dismissed the woman’s drunk driving charge from last year. The 35-year-old teacher ended up spending $7,000 in order to prove to the court that she had a medical condition that made a breathalyzer read like she had been consuming enough alcohol to be considered drunk. The woman was diagnosed with Auto-Brewery Syndrome by Dr. Anup Kanodia, an expert in the rare medical condition. Defense attorney, Joseph J. Marusak, commented on the “bizarre and unusual – one of the strangest cases I’ve ever been involved with in more than 30 years as a lawyer.”
“It’s also known as gut fermentation syndrome. She can register a blood alcohol content that would have you or I falling down drunk, but she can function.”
On October 11, 2014, the New York woman was stopped by police after a 911 tip was called in about the woman weaving on the road. According to police, the woman was driving on a flat tire and had “glassy-bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.” When asked by police if she had been drinking alcohol, the woman admitted to consuming three drinks. The woman was given a breathalyzer to determine how much alcohol she had in her body. The reading came back with a blood alcohol content of 0.33 percent. Gregory G. Wickett, chief of police in Hamburg, New York, stated that his police officers did the right thing by arresting her based on the evidence they had.
During the field sobriety test, the woman failed standing on one foot and walking heel to toe. Added to the blood alcohol content result, police had plenty of evidence to arrest the woman for drunk driving.
“She was highly intoxicated, as shown by the Breathalyzer. Our officers did the right thing in getting her off the road. Whether she has a medical issue that caused it is not for me to decide.”
The woman’s attorney decided to look into potential medical conditions that would have caused his client to exhibit a blood alcohol content of 0.33 percent, but not be impaired. Marusak said, “the amount they told me she drank would account for nowhere near a 0.33 percent BAC.” During his search, Marusak found Dr. Barbara Cordell who was doing research on Auto-Brewery Syndrome. When Marusak contacted Dr. Cordell, he was prompted to contact Dr. Anup Kanodia in Ohio who has treated people that have a body that brews alcohol.
The woman flew to Ohio to be seen by Dr. Anup Kanodia. The woman’s blood alcohol content was reading very high even though she had not been drinking any alcohol.
“Her blood alcohol level was repeatedly measured at very high levels – 0.279, then 0.379 and then 0.40 – extremely high levels. We then took blood samples and refrigerated them, and took them to the Erie County Medical Center lab to be examined. Again, those levels came out extremely high.”
A person with Auto-Brewery Syndrome develops a problem with yeast fermenting inside of their body. The fermentation leads to the production of alcohol. The condition is so rare that it is estimated that less than 100 people have been diagnosed with it.
On December 9, 2015, due to the medical evidence, Judge Walter Rooth had no choice but to dismiss the drunk driving charge. Prosecutors are appealing the decision of Judge Rooth.
Have you ever heard of anyone who has a body that brews alcohol?
[Image Via AP Photo/Matt Marton]