In a case believed to be the first of its kind in New York, a judge dismissed charges against a woman who had been convicted of DWI based on evidence that her body brewed its own alcohol.
Hamburg Town Police arrested the woman last year and measured her blood alcohol level at four times higher than the state’s legal limit, reported The Buffalo News. But a judge dismissed the charges after being presented with medical evidence that the woman has an intestinal disorder, known as “auto-brewery syndrome” which turns food into alcohol in her body.
Defense attorney for the 35-year-old woman, whose name was withheld since the charges had been dropped, Joseph J. Marusak described the case as “bizarre and unusual – one of the strangest cases I’ve ever been involved with in more than 30 years as a lawyer,” reported the News.
“She can register a blood alcohol content that would have you or I falling down drunk, but she can function,” Marusak said. He began his own investigation when his client insisted she was not drunk and the hospital she was taken to released her because she did not show any symptoms.
After sending his client for many tests and researching the rare disorder, also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, Marusak compiled all the information in a report and asked the judge to dismiss the case. Although the judge did dismiss the driving while intoxicated charges, the Erie County District Attorney’s office says it will appeal the ruling and wants the charges reinstated, according to the News.
Hamburg Police Chief Gregory G. Wickett believes his officers responded correctly in arresting the woman. “She was highly intoxicated, as shown by the Breathalyzer. Our officers did the right thing in getting her off the road,” Wickett said. “Whether she has a medical issue that caused it is not for me to decide.”
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