Woman Caught Driving Drunk on Vanilla Extract

Carolyn Kessel says she drank two bottles of the stuff
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2015 2:45 PM CST

(Newser) – Driving drunk is one thing. Doing it on two bottles of vanilla extract is at least sweeter, if just as dangerous. Carolyn Kesel, 46, was pulled over for driving erratically around a Walmart parking lot in Macedon, NY, last week, and told police she had downed two bottles of extract, the Post-Standard reports. She came up .26% on a Breathalyzer test. Seem unlikely? Well, police say vanilla extract has an alcohol level of 41%. "That puts it on comparison to both vodka and gin," journalist Ron Holdracker tells WHAM. "We found out that things like orange extract and peppermint extract are up to 89% alcohol. That's 160 proof plus, that's far more than you can even find in even a liquor store."

County officials are learning that people (alcoholics in particular) also drink flavored extracts to mask alcohol consumption, adds Holdracker. And the Wayne County Times notes that underage kids are known to drink extracts to get high. "I didn't know that," says a county correctional officer of extracts' alcohol level. "This blows me away. How can they sell that stuff in grocery stores." Many shops already card people who purchase "buzzy" products like spray paints, cough syrup, computer keyboard duster spray, and sometimes spice extracts. As for Kesel—who has a prior DUI—she was arraigned and remanded to jail on a $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash. (Read more DUI stories.)

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