Imagine that a police officer pulls you over and accuses you of drunk driving. In spite of telling the officer you haven't had a drop of alcohol, he demands that you get out of your vehicle to perform a few tests. To your surprise, you fail your field sobriety tests, and your Breathalyzer test results in a .37 percent blood alcohol content.
After a few medical tests, you discover that you suffer from a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome. The syndrome causes the flora in your gut to convert everyday food into alcohol, which then enters your bloodstream and causes you to literally get drunk. Although most Florida doctors have never seen real evidence of auto-brewery syndrome in an actual patient, there have been documented cases. Some believe that the symptoms can happen after a patient takes a strong course of antibiotics.
In fact, auto-brewery syndrome is real, and it has lead to numerous false DUI arrests. Some drivers have also been able to use medical evidence and doctors' testimony to successfully defend themselves against their charges. The issue is, if you know that you suffer from auto-brewery syndrome and you knowingly get behind the wheel -- when common sense dictates that you avoid driving -- you could still get into serious trouble with the law.
Although it's highly unlikely that the auto-brewery syndrome defense will apply to your Florida drunk driving case, it's an excellent reminder of why doctors should stay open minded to all possible defenses when considering the best legal strategies to employ on behalf of their clients.
Source: National Public Radio, "Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut," Michaeleen Doucleff, accessed Oct. 26, 2017