Woman Charged With Drinking And Driving Under The Influence Of Vanilla Extract

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Police have charged a Connecticut woman with driving under the influence… of vanilla extract. You read that right. Evidently, vanilla extract contains a fair amount of alcohol and this woman guzzled it. Hearst Connecticut Media is reporting that the New Canaan police discovered Stefanie Warner-Grise, 50-year-old, just sitting in her car at an intersection with her eyes closed at 4:45 pm in the afternoon on Wednesday. That’s a new one.

Officers found a bunch of bottles of vanilla extract in her car. Her breath smelled like vanilla and she was hammered. She could not answer basic questions and her speech was slurred. She also failed field sobriety tests. In other words, she could not walk a straight line or touch her nose etc. This is one for the books. She blew a 0.26 on the breathalyzer.

Warner-Grise was released on a promise to appear in court. No lawyer was listed for her in online court records. I doubt one will represent her on something like this. She’ll probably go with a public defense attorney. She was booked for operating under the influence after police were called to the scene. She was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday and was released.

The Food and Drug Administration says that pure vanilla extract must contain 35 percent alcohol, Hearst Connecticut Media reports. McCormick’s pure vanilla extract contains 41 percent. It’s a legal requirement that vanilla extract have 35% alcohol – the same amount of alcohol that Captain Morgan Rum has (70 proof).

From The Hour:

“According to medicaldaily.com, in most cases the alcohol in vanilla is burned away in the cooking process, but when ingested directly, the effects are similar to drinking hard liquor.

“It said a person weighing around 154 pounds, who drinks a 12-ounce bottle of extract will have a peak BAC three times the legal driving limit.

“McCormick’s Pure Vanilla Extra, one of the most popular brands, has a 41 percent alcohol content, making it 82 proof.”

A more in-depth quote:

“Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid family, and the manufacturing of vanilla orchids into pure vanilla extract is regarded as the most labor-intensive agricultural production in the world. In order to get the vanilla taste we’re all so familiar with from the vanilla beans, the beans must be cured, dried, and then rested. Alcohol is the most effective way to extract the flavor from the beans, and according to FDA regulations, pure vanilla extract must contain 35 percent alcohol. In comparison, the alcohol content of beer is between two to six percent, wine is around 10 to 20 percent, and distilled liquors are around 40 to 50 percent. In most cases the alcohol is burned away in the cooking process, but when ingested directly, the effects are similar to drinking hard liquor. According to one report, an individual weighting around 154 pounds who drinks a 12-ounce bottle of extract will have a peak BAC three times the legal driving limit.”

Who knew? Wow. Although intoxication by vanilla extract is completely possible due to its high alcohol content, the practice is also extremely dangerous. She’s not the first either… others have been busted for the same thing.

Sources: Rare, Oklahoma News 4, Fox News, Fox 2, The Hour, Medical Daily

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