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Law enforcement has heard every excuse for a driver’s inebriation. However, one explanation for a motorist in Belgium was so seemingly impossible that it seems like something out of a police crime drama TV show. Belgian courts recently acquitted an apparent drunk driver because his body produces alcohol without consumption, a condition known as “auto-brewery syndrome.”

Auto-brewery syndrome is a spectacularly rare disorder that could land a motorist a drunk driver charge

ABS doesn’t just refer to anti-lock braking systems. Believe it or not, ABS is a condition that causes the human body to produce alcohol through fermentation. Auto-brewery syndrome, or ABS, is a condition wherein bacteria or fungi ferment within the body, per the National Library of Medicine.

Such is the case for an unnamed Belgian motorist facing a drunk driver charge. The driver’s lawyer, Anse Ghesquiere told the news outlet Reuters that three doctors confirmed their client’s ABS condition after extensive testing. Consequently, the Bruges police court acquitted the driver of the drunk driving charges.

A Belgian police vehicle, like the one involved in a case with auto-brewery syndrome, shows off its hatchback construction.
A Belgian police vehicle | LIVINUS via iStock

Unfortunately for the Belgian motorist and others with ABS worldwide, the condition can present itself like inebriation. Frankly, it makes sense. “People with the condition produce the same type of alcohol as the one in alcoholic drinks but that they generally feel less of its effects,” Belgian clinical biologist Lisa Florin told Reuters. However, it can still land drivers in hot water with authorities. 

Tragically, the amount of alcohol some patients produce can result in blood alcohol content (BAC) levels over the legal limit and apparent drunk driving. Still, the National Library of Medicine recommends that evaluators rule out “hidden drinking” before assigning an ABS diagnosis. 

Almost comically, the would-be drunk driver has a job at a brewery. However, that’s not such a wild prospect in Belgium. The country is well-known for its pilsners and ales, like Duvel and St. Bernardus. However, the fact that the driver works at a brewery is a world-class coincidence.