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New York woman arrested after ingesting vanilla extract

According to Macedon Police, a woman has been arrested and charged after they found her driving recklessly in a Wal-Mart parking lot. She appeared disoriented and informed police that she had gotten lost in the parking lot and was struggling to find her way out. The driver from Seneca Falls had a blood alcohol concentration of .26 percent. She was charged with felony DWI charge.

The 46-year-old had a 41 percent alcohol level after ingesting a common baking necessity; police said she swallowed two hand-sized bottles of pure vanilla extract. According to a local newspaper, alcohol levels of that amount are comparable to hard liquors like gin and vodka, and extracts like peppermint and orange contain up to 89 percent alcohol, making them in excess of 160 proof.

Authorities of Wayne County are becoming increasingly alert about how common cooking supplies like these are making it easier for people with drinking problems to hide their issue with smells like vanilla or orange. These strong flavors can easily mask the symptoms of driving while intoxicated. One of the top concerns of local authorities is that children or teenagers could abuse these kitchen supplies that contain high levels of alcohol content. Grocery stores in the area are taking measures to begin preventing underage individuals from purchasing products like these.

In an unusual case like this where drunk driving charges have been filed, it may be hard to determine what the driver's true motivations were. Since vanilla extract is easy to purchase from almost any store, it is possible that she did not intend to become drunk or did not understand what the repercussions of drinking it would be. Since there is no law preventing the sale of baking products like these, a criminal defense lawyer might be able to argue that she did not intentionally break the law.

Source: WHAM, "Felony DWI charge drinking vanilla extract," Jan. 9, 2015

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