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“Auto-Brewery” Syndrome as a Defense for DUI Cases in Nevada

“Auto-Brewery” Syndrome Explained

 Auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) is a rare medical condition characterized by an overgrowth of yeast in the gut, which converts carbohydrates into ethanol. This ethanol is the same alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Treatment and diagnosis remain limited, due to its rarity.

Symptoms of Auto-Brewery Syndrome include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Brain fog
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Altered mood

There have been reports of individuals with auto-brewery syndrome experiencing the same effects as alcohol intoxication. Generally, it takes more blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for those with ABS to experience these effects. Thus, one with ABS may have a BAC over 0.08% and not even know it.

For instance, a lady with Auto-Brewery Syndrome was pulled over for drunk driving in New York and tested positive on a breathalyzer with a 0.40% BAC, five times the adult legal limit in Nevada. The woman’s defense lawyer claimed that she didn’t show any signs of intoxication up until her blood alcohol level was between 0.40% and 0.30%.

Can Auto-Brewery Syndrome Fool A DUI Breathalyzer in Nevada?

Some individuals with ABS have been apprehended for driving under the influence (DUI), and have been breathalyzed. Individuals with ABS routinely have a high BAC reading from these breathalyzers, despite never having consumed alcohol. In order to understand why this happens, it’s crucial to understand the mechanics of Nevada’s DUI breath tests.

These tests measure the volume of alcohol present in your breath. The breathalyzer then uses a mathematical formula to convert the alcohol in your breath into a BAC reading. However, these devices only measure “deep lung” air, not the true amount of alcohol in your blood. Breathalyzers can do this and get an accurate reading because some of the alcohol that enters our bloodstream after consuming alcoholic beverages moves to your lungs.

This measurement can be inaccurate, as the air you exhale has to pass through your throat and mouth, which may contain alcohol not present in your blood.

Despite this concern, breathalyzer manufacturers are adamant that their equipment can distinguish between mouth alcohol and deep lung air.

Can ABS be used as a Complete Defense for a DUI in Nevada?

Auto-Brewery Syndrome can be used as a defense to a DUI charge in Nevada, but it is rare. In order to claim ABS as a defense, a doctor must officially diagnose you with it.

But suppose you have been charged with a DUI. Seeking legal advice from a Nevada DUI lawyer is highly recommended. If you have ABS or believe you do, let your attorney know and they will determine whether to use it as a defense. 

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