Man With 'Auto-Brewery Syndrome' Acquitted of DUI

Belgian man's body produces alcohol on its own
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2024 2:30 AM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2024 1:20 PM CDT
Man With 'Auto-Brewery Syndrome' Acquitted of DUI
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / FOTOKITA)

A Belgian man was pulled over two times in a single month in 2022 and, both times, blew a breathalyzer result that was above Belgium's legal limit. Now, he's been acquitted on the drunk driving charges he was hit with because of a rare metabolic condition he has in which the body essentially produces alcohol, Reuters reports. Auto-brewery syndrome, or ABS, is a condition in which carbohydrates in the stomach are fermented, increasing ethanol levels in the blood, per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Three doctors examined him independently and confirmed the diagnosis, the Guardian reports.

He'd previously been hit with a fine and a license suspension in 2019 for drunk driving, but didn't realize he had ABS until after the 2022 incidents. The judge in the case noted that the man does not experience symptoms of intoxication during an ABS episode, but patients can experience symptoms including slurred speech, stumbling, loss of motor functions, dizziness, and burping. In what his lawyer called an "unfortunate coincidence," he also happens to work at a brewery. Only about 20 people in the world have been officially diagnosed with ABS, which is not present at birth but can develop if other intestinal conditions are present. The man is now on a low-carb diet so his stomach won't produce as much alcohol. (More Auto-Brewery Syndrome stories.)

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