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Rare body brewing condition leads to dropped DUI charge

The more we learn about the human body, the more apparent it is that we really don't know as much as we think we do. While space is hailed as the final frontier, there are some who might argue that there's still a lot to discover in our own internal workings.

For example, our medical understanding of the body makes it possible for pathologists to say with a great deal of certainty that the average body metabolizes alcohol at a particular rate, causing the blood alcohol content to rise. And anyone who has ever faced drunk driving charges in Tennessee is quite aware of how much authorities rely on BAC tests as evidence in seeking a conviction.

Given what we do know makes what happened in a recent case in New York all the more intriguing. According to the reports on the matter, a woman had been out with her husband for an afternoon of food and drink on a fall day in 2014. On her way home, she had a flat tire and got pulled her over.

She submitted to a breath test and officials say she recorded a BAC of nearly 0.40 percent. And when a blood test was conducted at a hospital, it came back at 0.30 percent. But how could this be? She hadn't had anything to drink in hours and she hadn't imbibed enough earlier to get to that level of intoxication. Further, she didn't seem at all impaired.

The contradictions over how this woman's body was behaving prompted her attorney to do a little research and he discovered a condition he'd never heard of called auto-brewery syndrome. It's also known as gut-fermentation syndrome. It's rare, but known. It can occur when yeast organisms in the gut are abnormally high. They take sugars from consumed carbohydrates and turn them into ethanol in the body.

The attorney had his client tested and found this was her problem. On the basis of the findings he succeeded in convincing a judge to drop the drunk driving charge against her. Prosecutors may appeal the decision, but in the meantime, this woman has obtained needed treatment for her condition and is carrying on with her life.

Source: CNN.com, "Woman claims her body brews alcohol, has DUI charge dismissed," Sandee LeMotte, Jan. 1, 2016

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