Judge Dismisses DWI For Woman With 'Auto-Brewery Syndrome'

A 35-year-old school teacher charged with a DWI after a breathalyzer measured a BAC of .33 percent had all charges against her removed. According to Buffalo News, the unnamed woman's defense attorney Joseph J. Marusak presented evidence that she suffered from a rare intestinal disorder known as 'Auto-Brewery Syndrome,' in which a person's body turns ordinary food and beverages into alcohol. Marusak says, "It's also known as gut fermentation syndrome. She can register a blood alcohol content that would have you or I falling down drunk, but she can function."

In his defense investigation, Marusak found Dr. Barbara Cordell, a researcher in Texas who published medical studies on Auto-Brewery Syndrome. Cordell referred Marusak to Dr. Anup Kanodia, a physician near Columbus, Ohio, who has treated people for the syndrome. Through a series of tests, Marusak's client used a breathalyzer to check her BAC on 18 separate occasions when she was not drinking, and almost every time her BAC measured at a level above the state's legal limit for driving of .08 percent.

Despite these findings, Hamburg Police Chief Gregory G. Wickett believes the officers who charged the woman with the DWI made the right choice. Wickett says, "She was highly intoxicated, as shown by the Breathalyzer. Our officers did the right thing in getting her off the road. Whether she has a medical issue that caused it is not for me to decide."