In 2014, NY officers pulled over a 35-year old school teacher after stopping her for erratic driving. The school teacher failed several field sobriety tests on the scene, and a Breathalyzer later showed her blood-alcohol level to be four times the legal limit. Given these facts, this case might seem like your run-of-the-mill DWI case. However, with the help of counsel, the teacher successfully got her charges dismissed due to a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome.
What Is Auto-Brewery Syndrome?
Auto-brewery syndrome is a rare medical condition where a person’s digestive system has an overgrowth of yeast, leading to ethanol fermentation. Because of this, auto-brewery syndrome can cause a person to demonstrate symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication without the actual ingestion of alcohol.
Involuntary Intoxication and Auto-Brewery Syndrome
Criminal liability requires intent, meaning the crime must be based on a person’s voluntary act or their voluntary failure to act. New Hampshire defines the voluntary act necessary for a DWI conviction as driving or operating a vehicle upon any roadway with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 BAC.
Unlike drinking and voluntarily deciding to get behind the wheel, auto-brewery syndrome causes involuntary intoxication. The driver isn’t intoxicated due to the ingestion of alcohol. Instead, they exhibit the symptoms of intoxication because of a medical condition they have no control over. Accordingly, auto-brewery syndrome may serve as a valid defense a driver with the syndrome does not intend to drink and drive.
Standard Of Proof
Though auto-brewery syndrome can be a valid DWI defense, the burden of proof is high, and courts can be skeptical of the condition. Therefore you will have to provide significant medical documentation to overcome the charge.
Get Experienced Help
When you need help crafting your DWI defense, the seasoned DWI attorneys at Tenn And Tenn, P.A., can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.