A judge in Hamburg, New York, dismissed a woman’s DUI charge after being presented with evidence that she suffers from “auto-brewery syndrome,” according to the Associated Press.
Police accordingly told The Buffalo News that she “weaving all over the road,” and exhibited glassy-bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. She also blew a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit.
CNN reports that the syndrome, also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol.
“She can register a blood alcohol content that would have you or I falling down drunk, but she can function,” her attorney Joseph Marusak told the newspaper.
“I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case,” he said to CNN, keeping his client’s name anonymous. “But I knew something was amiss when the hospital police took the woman to wanted to release her immediately because she wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms.
Marusak did some research online to “see if there is any sort of explanation for a weird reading,” and he quickly found information about this syndrome.
She blew .40, but Marusak told CNN that she consumed “four drinks between noon and 6 p.m.” and that a local pharmacologist told him a woman of her size and weight should have been between 0.01 and 0.05 blood alcohol levels.
The Erie County District Attorney’s office tells the newspaper that they want to have the charges against the driver reinstated and will appeal the judge’s ruling.
Panola College Dean of Nursing Barbara Cordell, who has studied the syndrome for years, also spoke to CNN and said that she is in touch with about 30 people who believe they suffer from it as well. Of those 30, 10 have been diagnosed.
“They can function at alcohol levels such as 0.30 and 0.40 when the average person would be comatose or dying,” she said. “Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how they can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking.”
PEOPLE was unable to reach the Hamburg Police Department for comment.