New York Judge Throws Out DWI Charges After Determining Teacher Suffers From “Auto-Brewery Syndrome”

imagesThere is a fascinating DWI case out of New York involving a case of a 35-year-old school teacher who was arrested after driving with a flat tire and a blood alcohol content of .33 g/dL. Judge Walter L. Rooth dismissed misdemeanor charges of DWI and aggravated DWI after agreeing with the defense that the woman has the rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, where her body turns ordinary food and beverages into alcohol in a person’s body like a brewery.

This is not some new “Twinkie defense” or cunning defense tactic. This syndrome has been well documented and addressed in other cases and in other countries.

The rare intestinal disorder is caused by a saturation of yeast in the system of some people (which is why it is also called “gut fermentation syndrome”). Notably, the woman admitted to having three drinks that day with her parents in Buffalo but that would not have been enough to register such a high BAC. The police insist that she appeared incredibly intoxicated and registered the level on a Breathalyzer. Indeed, witnesses called police because of a car “weaving all over” the road. She could not recite the alphabet or perform other sobriety tests. The police officer said that he could smell the burning rubber from the tires. The prosecutors are appealing the ruling.

Notably, it was her defense attorney who sent her for tests because the confirmed drinks would not have yielded this BAC. It reportedly required 40 hours of work and about $7,000 on medical evidence to prove the condition.

Even if this condition is accepted, however, there remains the question of whether such people should be given licenses if they cannot detect a “flare” of the syndrome. After all, if she is still functioning as if drunk, she is still driving under the influence of alcohol. Her voluntary act may not have been consuming the requisite amount of alcohol but driving in such a condition. Clearly, a person may not intend to do so if such “flares” occur without warning. Moreover, if she was not previously diagnosed, she would have had no reason to know. In such a case, I am okay with the ruling but there must still be a determination on her ability to drive. It may be a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that the charges were dropped. The bad news is that the defense itself may mean that she cannot drive absent some medical corrective intervention.

What do you think?

Source: Buffalo News

75 thoughts on “New York Judge Throws Out DWI Charges After Determining Teacher Suffers From “Auto-Brewery Syndrome””

  1. Really J…Your message is a bit convoluted. Under the “ada” ? “donxt swervr”? “its nev r r hurt anyone”? Sure, nobody’s perfect but being chastised in this way is like being yelled at by someone in their underwear. It’s hard to take it seriously. Regardless; Happy New Year!

  2. Really hildegard…..did she hurt anyone? She got pulled over and failed. But lets not forget she didn’t hurt anyone. Where do you stand on ambien….and those ppl who can’ t brake in time….and hurt ppl….but donxt swervr? If she has this condition….its nev r r hurt anyone. Sure we shouldnt wait until four ppl are dead. Then again tezting and phones kill more ppl than this lady ever did. And your phone is still on while you drive. We cant shut off her gut but we can shut off your phone. So shut up. Shes’ under the ada…what are you under?

  3. Nick “Hildegard, Many women, w/o this alleged condition, are drunk on 3 drinks. And, any cop will tell you 3 drinks really means 6 drinks.” True, women metabolize differently. When I had this affliction I rarely drank alcohol because I don’t like the feeling of being drunk. Being “sober’ was unpleasant enough.

    This woman apparently had no aversion to being sh*t faced at anyone’s expense including her own….until she got caught endangering others. This is what I call fake conscience/imposed morality/inorganic guilt as opposed to divine conscience/organic shame; something we’re born with but systematically have ‘educated’ out of us. And of course she’ll get lots of validation from other hapless victims.

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