In previous blogs, we’ve discussed some of the possible ways that a defense attorney may fight drunk driving charges. For example, an attorney may question whether or not a police officer had probable cause to pull a defendant over in the first place. A criminal defense attorney may also raise doubts about the way in which field sobriety tests were conducted including the accuracy of the calibration of a Breathalyzer test.
A recent drunk driving case out of New York is making national headlines as the defense attorney in the case used a very unique defense to win a dismissal of all charges against his client.
Most people likely haven’t heard about the medical condition known as auto-brewery syndrome. Believed to be extremely rare, the condition results in an individual’s body converting normal beverages and food into alcohol.
Consequently, at any given time an individual who is suffering from auto-brewery syndrome may register a blood alcohol content level that is well above the legal .08 limit. In the case out of New York, a 35-year-old school teacher was pulled over last year after another driver reported that she was driving erratically.
The woman had a flat tire and was attempting to make the short drive to her home. The woman also admitted to drinking three alcoholic beverages earlier in the day. The arresting police officer claimed that the woman smelled of alcohol and had difficulty performing a series of field sobriety tests.
Upon submitting to a Breathalyzer test, the woman registered a BAC of .33, a number that would result in most people falling down or asleep. While the woman admitted to feeling “a little woozy,” however, she did not feel drunk nor did she drink enough alcohol to warrant a .33 BAC.
The woman’s defense attorney began a thorough investigation into the matter which led him to a medical specialist who officially diagnosed the woman as having auto-brewery syndrome. Subsequently, the DWI charges against the woman were dismissed.
While this case is certainly unique, as only between 50 to 100 have been officially diagnosed as having this rare condition, it serves as a reminder of the numerous and often complex factors that may influence the outcome of a DWI case.
Source: The Buffalo News, “Woman’s body acts as ‘brewery,’ so judge dismisses DWI,” Dan Herbeck, Dec. 26, 2015