Woman Beats DUI Rap With Claim Her Body Brews Alcohol

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Associated Press on 12/30/15 by Mary Esch

Drunken-driving charges against an upstate New York woman have been dismissed based on an unusual defense: Her body is a brewery.

The woman was arrested while driving with a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit. She then discovered she has a rare condition called “auto-brewery syndrome,” in which her digestive system converts ordinary food into alcohol, her lawyer Joseph Marusak said in interviews this week.

A town judge in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg dismissed the drunken-driving charges this month after Marusak presented a doctor’s research showing the woman had the previously undiagnosed condition in which high levels of yeast in her intestines fermented high-carbohydrate foods into alcohol.

The rare condition, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, was first documented in the 1970s in Japan, and both medical and legal experts in the U.S. say it is being raised more frequently in drunken-driving cases as it is becomes more known.

“At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. “But it’s not that easy. Courts tend to be skeptical of such claims. You have to be able to document the syndrome through recognized testing.”