A group of lawyers in Panama City, Fla., got together this past week to challenge what they called outdated breathalyzers that the local police use in sobriety checks. I suppose they were trying to prove a point, or for some it might have been just to proof a pint.

Anyway, the 25 barristers knocked down precisely measured shots of Jack Daniels and compared their breath tests on old and new machines.

It seems some of the present machines date back a decade and are not quite the connoisseurs as some of the more modern devices. The lawyers argued that if you burped just before taking the test on the old devices, your alcohol reading was higher.

I must wonder how many arms were twisted to get folks signed up for this test? My guess is not a shirt sleeve was wrinkled -- at the beginning. And you've got to know that a bucket full of jokes would come out of this event.

We must wonder, in this trial, how long it took some of these lawyers to "rest their case." Just how much cross-examination was required? I'm guessing this procedure had exhibits A through Z. And did anyone offer any objections? Did anyone confess to anything? How many took the Fifth? I'm sure there were lots of motions.

And surely someone asked for a continuance. Did this event give new meaning to the term "bar exam?"

Amazingly, there was no immediate conclusion reported on this test. The lawyers went home with designated drivers. I'm supposing this matter has been taken under advisement.

Of course police representatives said the breathalyzer is not the only sobriety device used, noting that plain old observation often can tip them off to an intoxicated driver. Walking chalk lines and touching the end of the nose are among those exercises that can clue an officer as to one's sobriety. Often, blood tests are the ultimate.

I think there are other possibilities as well that haven't been used to determine sobriety, such as a pop quiz.

Here's a multiple choice question to the suspected boozer:

The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were:

l A Latin rock group.

l New models that Ford will roll out next spring.

l Nicknames given to George Bush's daughters at their favorite pub.

l The ships that brought Christopher Columbus to the New World.

l Mixed drinks involving rum, pineapple juice and tiny umbrellas.

l The next choices as names for hurricanes.

But then after watching some of Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" routines, I'm not sure if this would be a measure for intoxication or stupid -- neither of which should be driving a car, of course.

Now out of fairness to my lawyer friends, I'm sure there are a lot of reporters who would have had some difficulty maintaining objectivity while covering this conference.

And to make sure I take equal pun on my own profession, there was a farmer who had a world renown bird dog. He named the dog "Reporter." Reporter was so good that the farmer rented him out for $300 a day. Folks came from miles around to hunt with Reporter.

Then one day a hunter dropped by to pick up Reporter and was only charged $25.

"What's the deal? What's happened?" the hunter asked.

"Well," the farmer replied, "I rented him out to a party last Saturday and one of them screwed up and called him 'Editor."

Now about all he will do is sit on his butt all day and bark."

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer.



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