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Lee, Gober & Reyna – Gut Fermentation Syndrome Driver Arrested for DWI Has Charges Dismissed

Feb 22, 2016

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 22, 2016 – Gut Fermentation Syndrome, an extremely rare syndrome that causes the gut to ferment ingested food, has afflicted only a handful of people in recent decades. It’s an unusual disease and those living with it have difficulty trying to explain to law enforcement they have not been drinking and driving even when their Breathalyzer results seem to indicate otherwise.

In Texas in 2013, a 61-year-old man seemed to be drunk all the time despite not drinking. No one believed him until his wife, a nurse, started administering Breathalyzer tests. Even if he had not been drinking, his blood alcohol content (BAC) was .40.

The man was monitored for 24 hours in the offices of a gastroenterologist. The man saw no one, drank nothing but water and ate only what was offered. At the end of the observation period, the doctors finally figured out what was going on. His stomach was turning food into alcohol thanks to an overabundance of yeast in the stomach. The yeast was fermenting carbohydrates into alcohol.

Gut fermentation syndrome, also referred to as auto-brewery syndrome, is a real disease with some awkward side effects, such as driving while under the influence without having had anything to drink. It is also treatable by the administration of anti-fungal medications.

A woman in a Hamburg, New York, case had her DWI and aggravated driving charges dismissed once her attorney explained she suffered from gut fermentation syndrome. She had been pulled over by police in October 2014 and blew .33, way over the legal .08 limit.

In order to prove her case for court, the defendant was monitored by doctors for 12 hours when she had not had an alcoholic beverage. “Stunningly, the physicians registered levels such as .279, .379 and even .40. Her blood was also taken to a lab and tested. It also showed very high BAC levels,” said Bobby Lee, an Austin DWI plaintiff’s attorney, not involved in the N.Y. case, or the original Texas case in 2013.

In an interesting twist to this case, prosecutors intend to appeal to have the charges reinstated, because no matter why she was inebriated, she was still driving drunk. As Hamburg Police Chief Gregory Wickett said: “She was highly intoxicated, as shown by the Breathalyzer. Our officers did the right thing in getting her off the road.”

“If the case does get reinstated, it is worth watching for the potential ramifications it may have for others with this syndrome and how it may, or may not, affect how a plaintiff involved in an accident with an individual with gut fermentation syndrome may pursue a personal injury lawsuit,” said Lee.

To learn more, visit http://www.lgrlawfirm.com

Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759
Phone: 512.478.8080

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