Last year, police in western New York stopped a driver who had been reported "weaving all over" the road. The female motorist had a flat tire and her car was producing "a large amount of smoke and a noticeable smell of burning rubber," per the police report; the responding officer also said the driver smelled of alcohol, was slurring her speech, and had glassy, bloodshot eyes. She passed one sobriety test (reciting the alphabet) but had trouble with others, and her BAC was ultimately found to be .33%, more than four times the legal limit, via Breathalyzer, police said. She was charged with DWI—but a judge dismissed the charges earlier this month, after medical evidence was presented to show that the woman suffers from "Auto-Brewery Syndrome," the Buffalo News reports. Essentially, her body gets her drunk even if she doesn't drink—as happens to this man in Texas.
In this case, the 35-year-old did admit to having three alcoholic beverages earlier in the day, but she had not consumed enough alcohol to end up with a .33% BAC. Her condition, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, involves an excess of yeast in her digestive system, causing carbohydrates to be turned into alcohol inside her body. Indeed, the syndrome is gradually getting more attention, "with sufferers reporting bouts of goofiness after eating french fries and false accusations of alcoholism," reports US News and World Report. It also notes that a BBC story raised a possible connection to long-term use of antibiotics. In the Buffalo-area case, the woman actually did not know she had the syndrome until her lawyer's research uncovered its existence, and tests proved she suffers from it. (Another man with the ailment explains what life is like living with it.)