What is auto-brewery syndrome?

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

A rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome can cause high BAC levels, thereby generating a DUI charge.

Getting pulled over by a New York law enforcement officer can be stressful enough for drivers but it can become even worse if the officer suspects that they have been drinking. For people who know they have not had a drop of alcohol in the last 12 hours, they may be confused about how they can blow a breath test reading that is over the legal limit. The answer may be auto-brewery syndrome.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae

To understand what auto-brewery syndrome is, it is important to gain a knowledge of saccharomyces cerevisiae. This is a fungus, according to bioweb.com, a collaborative biology website hosted by the University of Wisconsin. The fungus is known in layman's terms as a sugar fungus, and it is consumed as food by yeast. Without this fungus, people would not be able to brew beer or other alcoholic drinks, as it is the element that creates energy from glucose, the sugar found in the grain used in brewing.

Human infection of saccharomyces cerevisiae

NPR news reports that one man was found with a vast amount of this fungus or yeast in his gut when doctors started investigating why his blood alcohol content was so high. The man had been under strict observation by the doctors after he came into a hospital with a BAC level that was .37 percent. At first, doctors thought he was consuming alcohol in secret, even though he said he had not consumed any.

As they looked deeper into the man's condition, the doctors realized that he had an infection of the fungus and it was turning the glucose in starchy foods into ethanol alcohol. It also turned out that the man was a home brewer and had been for some time. As a result, he had somehow inhaled enough brewer's yeast that it settled in his gut and turned the organ into its own brewery system. The condition, while rare, has been termed auto-brewery syndrome, and has been documented in Japan as well as in the United States.

New York woman diagnosed after DUI stop

Just recently, a woman in New York was also diagnosed with the condition after she was stopped and eventually charged with drunk driving. According to CNN news, the woman, whose BAC level was almost .40 at the time, was trying to make it home with a flat tire. She told officers that she had consumed alcohol. During the next several hours, the hospital noted that her BAC remained at .30, even though she had not consumed any drinks.

After presenting her medical evidence to the judge, the woman succeeded in getting her DUI charge dropped. At least 10 people have been diagnosed with the condition.

Many people may be prone to just accepting the DUI charge, but it is important for them to understand that there could be influencing factors in their case. Therefore, they may find it helpful to meet with an attorney.