For many of us, as we begin to hover around that line between buzzed and drunk, we feel our senses begin to take leave. But according to one woman, who recently evaded a DUI citation, there are fully-functional people out there who walk around with a BAC well over the legal limit.

One year ago, an Upstate New York resident received a DUI for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.33, more than four times the legal limit. The woman suffers from “auto-brewery syndrome,” a condition that CNN refers to as a gut fermentation syndrome “where abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol.”

When the woman’s attorney Joseph Marusak took on her case, he wasn’t quite sure what to think. He tells CNN,

“I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case. But I knew something was amiss when the hospital police took the woman to wanted to release her immediately because she wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms.”

While the woman admitted she had a few drinks prior to taking the wheel, she did not consume nearly enough to produce a BAC of that caliber.


So how is it possible for people with auto-brewery syndrome to function with a BAC that would leave anyone else unconscious?

According to Dr. Anup Kanodia, a doctor who studies the condition, “There are people who get drunk without drinking any alcohol at all…They are legally drunk, but they are walking around. They are functioning.”

The New York woman isn’t the only person to stuffer from the syndrome. Back in 2013, a 61-year-old man suffered from a similar case where the yeast in his stomach would convert the sugar into Ethanol, and the man would get drunk.

Similarly in the case of the Upstate New York woman, Marusak explains,

“I hired two physician assistants and a person trained in Breathalyzers to watch her and take blood alcohol levels over a 12-hour period and had it run at the same lab used by the prosecution. Without any drinks, her blood level was double the legal limit at 9:15 a.m., triple the limit at 6 p.m. and more than four times the legal limit at 8:30 p.m., which correlates with the same time of day that the police pulled her over.”  

While the woman might be cleared of her DUI charges with the judge, she’s not quite off the hook yet. CNN reports that Marusak believes the DA Office plans to appeal the case later this month. But for now, she’s committing to a low-carb, low-sugar diet, along with anti-fungal medications and a yeast-free diet to ensure her syndrome will stay under control.

[via CNN, Buffalo News]