The Law Offices of John Phebus

Auto-brewery syndrome could be responsible for your DUI

For many people, avoiding drunk driving means being careful about how much alcohol they consume. However, those with auto-brewery syndrome have found that they can become drunk simply from the foods they eat. What sounds like science fiction is being proved an actual condition and is slowly gaining more publicity. Since most people do not realize that they have it until they are cited for drunk driving, the exact number of sufferers is still unknown. If you have been charged with a DUI, take a look at what happens with this condition to determine whether it may be to blame.

What causes auto-brewery syndrome?

While scientists are still unsure about why some people end up with the condition and others do not, they have traced most cases to an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut. This could be due to a genetic tendency or to a recent round of antibiotics that wiped out the good bacteria and allowed the bad to grow. Patients with the syndrome have had an abundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae found in their guts, a form of yeast commonly referred to as brewer's yeast.

When the patient ingests sugars, alcohol and bread products, the bacteria processes the carbs and produces ethanol, the form of alcohol that is commonly found in beverages. This is why the person's blood alcohol concentration can be raised even without the consumption of a single drink.

Known cases

Recent incidents have brought auto-brewery syndrome to the public's attention. One case involved a man in Texas who was suspected of being a closet drunk. Though the man claimed he was not drinking, he was frequently intoxicated. After visiting a hospital emergency room for dizziness, his BAC was tested and doctors found that his levels were at 0.37 percent, an amount that can be fatal or debilitating to most people. When he claimed he had not drunk any alcohol that day, researchers observed him for 24 hours. Without drinking, his BAC climbed throughout the day until it was 1.5 times the legal limit. When brewer's yeast was found in his intestinal tract, doctors realized that he was becoming drunk from the foods he was eating instead of alcoholic beverages.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI and do not believe you had drunk enough to become intoxicated, you may be suffering from auto-brewery syndrome. Talk with an attorney today to arrange proper medical testing and fight for your rights in court.

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