Updated April 27th, 2024 at 19:50 IST

Belgian Man Cleared of Drunk-Driving Charge Due to Rare Medical Condition

Belgian man acquitted of drunk-driving due to auto-brewery syndrome, a rare condition turning food into alcohol.

Reported by: Garvit Parashar
Belgian Man Cleared of Drunk Driving Charge Due to Medical ConditionBelgian Man Cleared of Drunk Driving Charge Due to Medical Condition | Image:unsplash

A Belgian man has been acquitted of a drunk-driving charge because of a rare medical condition called auto-brewery syndrome (ABS). This condition makes his body turn certain foods into alcohol, causing symptoms like slurred speech and dizziness.

The 40-year-old man, whose name has not been shared, was examined by three doctors who confirmed he suffers from ABS. When he was stopped by police, he didn't show signs of being drunk, but his body had high levels of alcohol due to his condition.


In a peculiar twist, the man works in a brewery, which his lawyer called "another unfortunate coincidence."

This isn't the first time the man faced legal trouble because of ABS. In 2019, he was convicted of drinking and driving but didn't know about his condition then. Despite his protests to the police, he received a fine and a driving license suspension.


The man's recent encounter with the law happened in April 2022 when he was pulled over by police and found to be over the legal alcohol limit, even though he hadn't been drinking. The judge ruled that he must take steps to drive safely, like controlling his diet or using a device to test his breath before driving.

According to his lawyer, only around 20 people worldwide have been diagnosed with ABS.


What is Auto-Brewery Syndrome?

Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome or "drunkenness disease," is a rare condition that can make someone feel drunk without drinking alcohol. It can also make someone very intoxicated after only a few drinks.


Symptoms of ABS include dizziness, flushed skin, disorientation, headache, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, similar to a hangover.

People don't inherit ABS but can develop it as a complication of other diseases or infections in the body. For example, Crohn's disease can lead to ABS by creating too much yeast in the gut.


Treatment involves reducing carbohydrates in the diet and taking antifungal medication.


Published April 27th, 2024 at 19:50 IST