Auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) is a very rare metabolic condition that causes the body to produce alcohol. In a recent case in Belgium, a 40-year-old man had a drink-driving charge against him dismissed after proving that he suffers from ABS. This condition occurs when the carbohydrates in the stomach are fermented, leading to higher ethanol levels in the blood and giving the appearance of intoxication.

The man’s lawyer, Anse Ghesquiere, revealed that scientists believe the number of ABS cases in the world is under-estimated. Despite the rarity of the condition, the court recognized that unforeseen factors applied to this particular case and acquitted the man of the charge. His identity was not disclosed, but it was confirmed that he provided evidence of his ABS after undergoing tests conducted by three doctors.

This was not the first time the man found himself in legal trouble due to his ABS. In 2019, he faced a fine and a driving license suspension, despite protesting that he had not consumed any alcohol. It was only during his recent encounters with the police that he became aware of his syndrome. The breathalyzer readings of 0.91 and 0.71 milligrammes of alcohol per liter exceeded the legal limit in Belgium, prompting his initial arrest.

While awaiting formal notification of the acquittal, the man has been advised to follow a carbohydrate-light diet to prevent his stomach from producing excessive alcohol. The prosecutor recommended that he abstain from consuming any alcoholic beverages during this time. It is crucial for individuals with ABS to make dietary modifications to minimize the symptoms of the condition and avoid legal issues stemming from misinterpretations of their intoxication levels.

The case of auto-brewery syndrome in Belgium sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals with rare medical conditions that can have legal implications. As more awareness is raised about ABS, it is essential for medical professionals and legal authorities to consider the unique circumstances of such cases and ensure that individuals are treated fairly and with understanding.


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