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Bay Area Criminal Defense Blog

Driver Avoids DUI Claiming Orange Juice Was to Blame

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Jan 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

Police officers have heard all kinds of excuses for why the driver tests positive for alcohol after a breath test. However, in some cases, those excuses may be convincing enough for a judge to dismiss DUI charges. A driver in the Midwest has had her drunk driving charges dropped after explaining to the judge a medical condition made her body turn orange juice into alcohol.

An attorney from the Midwest had been sober for nearly ten years and knew she had not had any alcohol to drink when she got into a car accident. When police arrived, they had the unnamed driver to blow a breath test, which registered just over 0.10% BAC, over the legal limit. She was arrested and charged with drunk driving.

The charges against the driver were dropped after she was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome. Auto-brewery syndrome is a rare medical condition where yeast inside the digestive tract ferments fruit and high-carbohydrate foods, turning the sugars into alcohol inside the body. In the driver's case, it was consumption of orange juice that may have led to an over-the-limit blood alcohol level.

Dr. Anup Kanodia has researched the condition and has a number of patients suffering from auto-brewery syndrome. Symptoms include those similar to the effects of alcohol, including hangover symptoms. Treatment includes a specialized diet, eating meat and vegetables and avoiding bread, potatoes, and other carbohydrate rich foods.

Many people are surprised to hear of the condition and may doubt the sufferer is telling the truth. “There were people who thought I was making it up for attention,” says the mother of a teenage girl with the condition. The teenager is now outspoken and wants to bring awareness to the condition.

In Erie County, New York, the district attorney was ready to prosecute a 34-year-old teacher on drunk driving charges. According to police, she was weaving all over the road. The officer noted bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. When the officer got a breath test, her blood alcohol content was tested at 0.33%, over 4 times the legal limit.

However, the teacher argued that she had only 3 drinks in the 6 hours before driving, and could not have achieved such a high concentration of alcohol in her blood through drinking. She sought medical advice and was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome.

Medical experts monitored the woman to ensure she had consumed not alcohol, while taking regular blood samples. Over more than 2 weeks, despite consuming no alcohol, her breath registered at 0.20% BAC every night. After medical tests and expert testimony regarding auto-brewery syndrome, Judge Walter Rooth dropped the charges.

At Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people from all walks of life facing DUI charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands that you may not be at fault for a DUI accident. If you are charged with drunk driving, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for 30 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense.

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