“Friends Don’t Let Friends Take Rolaids and Drive”

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on March 2nd, 2005

In a previous DUIBlog post, I discussed the autobrewery syndrome — that is, the phenomenon of internally produced alcohol (see "Immaculate Intoxication"). I mentioned in that post a number of studies which have confirmed that the human body can reach elevated levels of blood alcohol without actually consuming any alcoholic beverages. Scientific literature also indicates that because antacids change the gastric acidity in the stomach, they can create conditions favoring the production of alcohol by resident bacteria — and, consequently, elevated blood alcohol levels. Bode, et al., "Effects of Cimetidine Treatment on Ethanol Formation in the Human Stomach", 19(6) Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 853 (1984); Ericson, "Effects of Antacids on Alcohol’s Reaction" 5(5) Alcoholism 28 (1985). High blood alcohol…..or too many Rolaids?(Note: Even if proved in court, the law does not distinguish between internally-produced blood alcohol levels and those caused by drinking. It is the physiological condition, not the conduct, knowledge or intent, which constitutes the crime. Query, however: Would internally-produced alcohol constitute an actus reus defense — that is, the legal defense that the condition was involuntary?)

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