Glenn R. Bruno, Esq.
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Rare condition can cause people to get drunk without alcohol

Although it is extremely rare, New York residents may be interested to learn about a condition called auto-brewery syndrome. This occurs when a person's digestive system keeps too much yeast in the body. When a person with this syndrome eats a starch, the yeast and the carbohydrates from the starch can turn into ethanol. Essentially, a person may suffer the effects of alcohol, including a high blood-alcohol level, without drinking.

Because auto-brewery syndrome is so rare in the United States, there is very little information about it available. However, a case study that was published in 2013 does provide some of the possible effects that a person may suffer if they have this condition. The 61-year-old Texas man who was studied presented symptoms that are similar to being drunk. The symptoms included being lightheaded, dizziness and even a blood-alcohol level well over the legal limit even if no alcohol had been ingested.

Auto-brewery syndrome presents a number of dangers for those who suffer from the condition. They may potentially be put in a position where they may cause car accidents. They may also be at risk for alcohol or methanol poisoning.

When people are arrested for drunk driving even though they did not drink any alcohol prior to the traffic stop, they could still potentially face serious consequences that could include losing their driving privileges. A criminal law attorney may assist with defending them against the charges. Depending on the circumstances, the attorney may argue that breathalyzer and other tests were not properly conducted. If the person did show real signs of intoxication, the attorney may suggest being tested for auto-brewery syndrome. If the attorney finds evidence that the defendant was not under the influence of alcohol due to a hidden condition or faulty testing equipment, the case could potentially be dismissed.

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