Excuses

1991 -- A Montana State University chemistry professor claimed in March that he was wrongfully accused of being drunk after an accident (which occurred while he was on work-release for a previous (drunk driving sentence). While a state trooper found him "highly intoxicated," the professor said a chemical explosion in his lab caused him to smell and act drunk and that his statement to the trooper about having consumed a six-pack of beer was merely incoherent babbling" because of the trauma of the accident.
1992 -- Steven L. Johnson, 40, sentenced to two years in prison in Brookings, S.D., in April for drunk driving, explained to the judge: "I enjoyed drinking while driving. It's one of the most pleasurable habits I've had."
1993 -- Only days apart, two Wisconsin men arrived in court drunk for their trials on drunken-driving charges. Both denied they had been drunk while driving, and both denied they were drunk in the courtroom. James Heard had a 0.26 blood-alcohol level on his trial day in Milwaukee, and John Newbury registered 0.22 at his LaCrosse trial both more than double the 0.10 legal maximum.
1992 -- A jury in Tavares, Fla., convicted Leal Fleming, 45, of drunk driving in November despite his insistence that the reason he slurred his words to a police officer, and couldn't breathe into a machine,was that he had just been bitten on the tongue by a rat snake and was on his way to a hospital to get treatment for the swelling. Said Fleming after the trial, "After the verdict came in,I had some second thoughts [about not taking an offered plea bargain], but I still think there was a point to our defense."
1992 -- THE DIMINISHING VALUE OF LIFE In Miami in August, Levon Howard lost a shootout with his roommate Edwin Heyliger, who was charged with murder. Howard had broken into Heyliger's room,angry that someone had drunk his Kool-Aid, and in the ensuing argument, both scrambled for guns.
1991 -- In Romford, England, Philip Pyne, 51,off work last summer and intending to do some heavy drinking but worried that he might fall off his bar stool if he got too drunk, attempted to tack his legs onto the stool with nails but abandoned the idea in pain and called an ambulance.
1992 -- A pedestrian recently won a $600,000 judgment against Metro (the Washington, D.C., transportation authority) after being hit by a bus, despite the fact that he was drunk at the time and partying on a public street in a Batman costume. For the entire duration of the trial, the man's lawyer was able to suppress from the jurors' ears another fact about his client: At the time of the collision, for some reason, he was wearing a condom.
1991 -- St. Louis juror Frederick Pinkins was sentenced to three days in jail and a $700 fine for contempt of court in April after he missed final deliberations in a murder trial. He told the judge that the jury's discussion (in a lover's triangle case) depressed him so much that he got drunk and overslept.
1995 -- In May, over the opposition of state Sen. Joe Neal, the Nevada Senate passed a bill to prohibit people from carrying guns while drunk. Neal argued that the bill would hurt activities of gun clubs, some of which permit drinking during target-shooting socials.
1994 -- In February, William James Silva, 44,was arrested in San Jose, Calif., when he allegedly robbed a police decoy posing as a street corner drunk. It was the 550th time Silva had been arrested, and his record reaches 127 feet of computer paper. (According to police, before robbing the decoy, Silva had argued with a friend about whether the man was a police officer, with Silva insisting he wasn't.)

Rating: 3/10