Vanilla Extract Leads To DWI Charges

Vanilla extract

Those that are bound and determined to drink and drive can almost always find a way. Though most people think of trips to the local liquor store as a place to pick up supplies, the reality is that even a quick trip to the grocery outlet will suffice, if the intention is to find something with enough alcohol to get wasted.

As proof that there are lots of surprising things that can get a person drunk, a 46-year-old woman from Seneca Falls, New York was arrested last week and has since been charged with drunk driving after consuming, of all things, vanilla extract. According to police reports, the woman was spotted by officers driving erratically in a Walmart parking lot.

An officer then approached the car and began questioning the woman who admitted, almost immediately, that she had been drinking vanilla prior to getting behind the wheel. Officers say the woman explained how she had consumed two regular-sized bottles of pure vanilla extract not long before getting in her car. She soon became disoriented and was unable to navigate her way out of the Walmart parking lot.

Officers then administered a field sobriety test, which she failed, followed by a Breathalyzer test to determine her blood alcohol concentration. The test showed that the woman had a BAC of 0.26 percent, or more than three times the state’s legal limit.

The woman is now being held in jail on a $20,000 bond and has since been charged with felony DWI and felony aggravated DWI. Authorities say the recent episode is not her first run-in with the law, she has a prior DWI conviction dating back to 2006.

According to experts, though it may sound crazy, drinking vanilla extract isn’t as unheard of as it sounds. The vanilla scent masks the alcohol content, meaning those around may not realize you’ve been drinking according to smell alone, often mistaking vanilla extract for a vanilla-flavored soft drink.

Another reason some people consume vanilla extract is its incredibly high alcohol content: 41 percent. At this level, vanilla is similar to both vodka and gin. Even worse is pure peppermint extract which contains a whopping 89 percent alcohol. To get the full impact of the alcohol though, it’s important not to skimp and buy imitation. Experts say artificial extract contains 17 percent alcohol or less.

Source: “Carolyn Kesel Arrested For Alleged Drunk Driving After Drinking Vanilla Extract,” by David Moye, published at