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Police: DWI suspect was drunk on vanilla extract

Carolyn Kesel admitted to police she had been drinking vanilla extract with an alcohol content comparable to vodka.

By Ben Hooper

MACEDON, N.Y., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Police in upstate New York said a woman accused of driving while intoxicated had been drinking vanilla extract that was 41 percent alcohol.

Investigators said Carolyn Kesel, 46, was seen driving erratically in the parking lot of the Macedon Walmart store and she told officers she was having trouble finding her way home.

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Police conducted a breath test and determined Kesel had a blood alcohol content of .26 percent, more than three times the legal limit.

Kesel admitted to officers she had been drinking vanilla extract, which has an alcohol content comparable to vodka or gin, prior to the Nov. 5 incident.

Kesel, who has a previous conviction for driving while intoxicated, was charged with felony counts of DWI and aggravated DWI.

Chris Thomas, a drug counselor with the Wayne County Mental Health Department, said it is not uncommon for adolescents with substance abuse issues to drink food extracts.

"Both kids and adults use it. It smells like a vanilla drink (vanilla Coke, or Pepsi) and no one would know the difference," Thomas told the Times of Wayne County.

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He said a person drinking vanilla extract might be trying to mask the smell of booze in case they get stopped by the police.

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