Andrew H. Stevenson, Attorney at Law
Auto-brewery syndrome, a possible DUI criminal defense
In Ohio and elsewhere, DUI cases may be dismissed for a number of reasons, including lack of evidence, testing errors and medical issues -- among others. When it comes to medical issues, there is one in particular that can cause a high blood-alcohol readout on a breath test, even if the individual accused of impaired driving has not partaken of any alcohol. The disorder, known as auto-brewery syndrome, is a real thing and may be used as a criminal defense in a DUI case.
If a person has auto-brewery syndrome, it means that his or her body turns excess yeast from foods into alcohol. The process of converting carbohydrates into alcohol takes place in the small bowel. While this will increase a person's blood-alcohol content (BAC), the individual may not feel intoxicated as he or she would were he or she to actually drink alcohol. This is believed to be a relatively rare condition, though more cases continue to be reported.
Those who suffer from auto-brewery syndrome can function with higher BACs than those who do not. However, there are some who may feel its effects. In one particular case, a woman, who regularly drank orange juice -- even though doing so made her feel like something was not quite right medically -- ended up causing an accident. Her Breathalyzer readout was just above her state's legal limit, and she was charged with DUI. It was eventually found that she suffered from this disorder, and she was able to secure a plea agreement and have her charges reduced.
With medical proof of auto-brewery syndrome, it may be possible to secure a case dismissal or charge reduction in a DUI case. Obviously, this criminal defense that will not work for everyone, but it is something to consider in certain cases. Those in Ohio who believe that medical issues contributed to their high Breathalyzer readouts and DUI charges can work with legal counsel and medical professionals in order to fight the criminal charges in court.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Woman Avoids DUI Explaining Orange Juice Made Her Drunk", Steven Nelson, Jan. 13, 2017