Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.

Belgian man whose body brews alcohol acquitted of drunk driving charge

FILE - A 40-year-old Belgian man was acquitted of a drunk driving charge after it was revealed he suffers from a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), which causes his body to create alcohol. Ivan Pantic via Getty Images

A Belgian man was acquitted of a drunk-driving charge on Monday after court officials learned he suffers from a very rare metabolic condition that causes his body to turn certain foods into alcohol.

Story continues below advertisement

The 40-year-old man, who has not been named publicly, has a condition called auto-brewery syndrome (ABS). He was examined by three separate doctors who told the court the man does indeed suffer from ABS, Reuters reported.

Due to his condition, the man’s body creates ethanol, which is intoxicating, after ingesting sugary and starchy foods. Symptoms are akin to that of actual drunkenness, including slurred speech and dizziness.

As part of the verdict, the judge emphasized that the man did not experience symptoms of intoxication when he was stopped by police. The judge did not order a driving ban.

In what the man’s lawyer Anse Ghesquiere called “another unfortunate coincidence,” she said the defendant is employed in a brewery.

According to ABC News, the Belgian man was convicted of drinking and driving in 2019. He was not aware of his medical condition at the time of his conviction. He received a fine and a driving licence suspension, despite protests to police that he had not been drinking alcohol.

Story continues below advertisement

The man was again pulled over by police while driving in April 2022, resulting in his court appearance. When stopped by officers, the man was found to be over the country’s legal limit of 0.5 grams of alcohol per litre of blood (equivalent to 0.22ml per litre of air exhaled when breathalyzed). Again, he told police he had not been drinking and was unaware of his medical condition.

The judge said the man must now take measures to drive safely, namely controlling his diet or using an interlock device prior to driving. He will be convicted if he fails a future breathalyzer test.

Ghesquiere told AFP only some 20 people in the world have been officially diagnosed with ABS.

What is auto-brewery syndrome?

Auto-brewery syndrome, also called gut fermentation syndrome or “drunkenness disease,” is difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for other medical conditions.

According to Healthline, ABS can make someone drunk without drinking any alcohol, or may lead to a person with ABS feeling very intoxicated after only a few drinks.

Story continues below advertisement

Symptoms of the condition include dizziness, flushed skin, disorientation, headache, nausea and vomiting and dehydration, among other hangover-like symptoms.

People are not born with ABS, as it is usually a complication of another disease, imbalance or infection in the body. Crohn’s disease, for example, may create too much yeast in the gut and can lead to ABS.

Treatment includes reducing carbohydrates in one’s diet, as well as the prescription of antifungal medication.

More research is needed to better diagnose and understand ABS.


You are viewing an Accelerated Mobile Webpage.

View Original Article