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A High BAC Doesn’t Necessarily Mean You’re Guilty: A Look at the “Auto-Brewery Syndrome” Defense

Sometimes referred to as the “gut fermentation syndrome,” the auto-brewery syndrome is a recently-discovered, rare medical condition that involves the fermentation of high carbohydrate foods into alcohol in an individual’s intestines. Unfortunately, the condition can lead to an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) appearing to be erroneously high. Similarly, individuals who suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or smoke tobacco could also face wrongful arrests and prosecutions for DUI or DWI.

A Closer Look at the Issue

The condition was recently brought to light by a case involving a New York school teacher who was stopped by the police in October of 2015. She was subjected to a breath test that ultimately showed her BAC to be over four times the legal limit. The teacher’s attorney sought the advice of a doctor in Texas who was the first to identify auto-brewery syndrome in the U.S. That doctor, in turn, referred the attorney to an Ohio doctor who determined that the teacher, in fact, had the syndrome. After all was said and done, the charges were dropped and the teacher was permitted to operate a motor vehicle without any restrictions under the law.

To be sure, the New York teacher is not the first driver to be wrongfully accused and prosecuted for a drunk driving offense. As noted above, there are a number of foods and drugs, as well as various medical issues that can result in someone having an increased BAC – even if the person has not had any alcohol to drink at all.

Proving Your Case

If you believe you have the syndrome and have been wrongfully accused and convicted of a drunk driving offense, you will have to be able to demonstrate that you have the syndrome through certain recognized medical tests. It bears mentioning that the New York teacher’s case was dismissed only because she was not aware that she had the syndrome. In fact, drivers who know of medical issues prior to getting behind the wheel of a vehicle can be held legally responsible if they failed to take proper precautions.

The Issues With Breathalyzers

Needless to say, breathalyzers are not the most advanced devices used to determine one’s blood alcohol content. Over the years, breathalyzers have been shown to provide erroneous results after someone simply breathes in gas fumes or paint fumes. Consider this: It is not unusual for diabetes suffers to have high levels of acetone in their breath; however, breathalyzers do not have the ability to distinguish between acetone and alcohol.

What Are Your Options?

Bradenton DUI attorneys are prepared to help individuals who have been charged with a drunk driving offense and may be dealing with unknown medical conditions, such as the auto-brewery syndrome mentioned above. An attorney can ensure that all the evidence is thoroughly evaluated, as well as seek assistance from the appropriate expert witnesses and aggressively advocate for you in a court of law.

Even in cases where you may not be suffering from a medical condition, but rather the breathalyzer test given was inaccurate, you may be able to demonstrate your innocence with the help of a well-versed DUI attorney. If you have been charged, call Fowler Law Group at 941-404-8919 as soon as possible to ensure your rights are preserved.

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Fowler Law Group proudly represents the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as well as the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Our experienced team will help guide you through the judicial process and answer all of your questions with honesty and integrity. We understand the important nature of your call, and we will strive to return all calls within 24 hours. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling us at 941-404-8909.