Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have serious consequences for both your driving record and your criminal record. Every state has its own specific rules that define and penalize driving under the influence.
While many people may think that DUI laws specifically apply to drunk driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol, other substances can also result in DUI charges. Alcohol may be one of the most common substances that can lead to a DUI, but it’s important to keep in mind that any substance that can impair or inhibit your coordination and your cognitive abilities can lead to a DUI, including:
- Illegal drugs;
- Marijuana; and/or
- Prescription medications (especially if used inappropriately).
How Does the Police Determine a DUI?
If you are pulled over for a DUI, the law enforcement officer may perform field sobriety tests to verify whether your ability to control your movements or your mental clarity warrants a DUI charge.
Often in addition to field sobriety tests, the officer may also administer a breathalyzer test to measure blood alcohol content. In some areas, police departments will re-test a person’s blood alcohol content after arrest, usually by a blood or urine test conducted in a health clinic or hospital.
What Defenses Can I Use To Prove I Wasn’t Drinking And Driving?
If you are facing DUI charges, you may want to contact a criminal defense attorney to help you sort through your situation. You may have some defenses available to you depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. For example, you may be able to contend that:
- You were not the driver of the vehicle;
- There was no probable cause for law enforcement to pull you over; and/or
- The sobriety tests were unreliable or inaccurate.
In some rare cases, you may want to argue not just that you were not driving, or that the tests were inaccurate, but that you were not drinking at all. In this case, there is a defense that may be available to you—but it depends on a very specific set of circumstances and a very specific condition.
What is Auto-Brewery Syndrome?
Auto-brewery syndrome is a rare medical condition in which a person’s digestive system actually creates intoxicating quantities of ethanol. A specific type of yeast has been identified as the culprit for the condition.
If the yeast overtakes the good bacteria in a person’s gut, their gastrointestinal system can ferment material in the digestive tract—basically, their digestive system turns into a small brewery. A person affected by auto-brewery syndrome does not have to drink any alcohol in order to have a high blood alcohol content, because their own body is creating alcohol in their system.
Can I Show Signs Of Being Drunk If I Have This Condition?
Yes, you can show signs of intoxication if you experience auto-brewery syndrome. In fact, some symptoms that you may experience is you have auto-brewery syndrome include slurred speech, confusion, and the odor of alcohol on your breath. Other effects of the condition can include excessive belching, dizziness, dry mouth, hangovers, and disorientation.
Not only can you show outward signs of being drunk if you have this condition, but your blood alcohol levels will also be affected. Because the body is producing significant amounts of alcohol in the digestive system, you can actually have blood alcohol content test results that will indicate that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol—even if you haven’t touched a drink all day long.
Is It Possible to Treat and Manage Auto-Brewery Syndrome?
Auto-brewery syndrome is more likely to occur when a person with this condition has a large carbohydrate-rich meal (including foods like pasta or bread, or even the occasional sugary soda). Treatment for the condition may require a change in diet, requiring low levels of carbohydrates and high levels of proteins. However, because the auto-brewery syndrome is so rare, some people may suffer symptoms without realizing they have the condition.
If you believe you suffer from auto-brewery syndrome, you may want to consult a physician for medical advice on how to treat the condition and keep your digestive system balanced. There are many possible treatments in addition to keeping an eye on your diet, but it would be in your best interests to have the condition monitored by an experienced physician, who can help you explore treatments that work best for your body.
Do I Need to Talk to a Lawyer If I Am Facing a DUI?
If you are facing charges of driving while intoxicated, it is in your best interests to discuss the matter with a criminal defense lawyer. An experienced lawyer can advise you on your rights and help you to determine whether auto-brewery syndrome is an appropriate defense in your situation. If you do suffer from auto-brewery syndrome, your lawyer will work to have the charges of driving while intoxicated dropped.