A foolproof way to prevent drunks from buying wine
In Pennsylvania, the Liquor Control Board, in an effort to be more “customer friendly,” is thinking of selling wine in supermarkets using “automated wine kiosks.” The gizmos would dispense one bottle per customer, but only if the customer (a) inserts a drivers license to prove he’s over 21 and then, if that works, (b) breathes into a breath-testing machine, to prove she’s not drunk.
The proposed kiosk-breathalyzer
The state’s Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell, had been waivering on whether to support or oppose the bill, because he wanted to be assured that the machines would work as advertised. Yesterday afternoon, his spokesman said the Gov is ready to sign off “unless he finds fault with the technology.”
I can fully understand Rendell’s reluctance to approve a device that might allow drunks to get even drunker. After all, an inebriated person could easily cheat by having an accomplice who hasn’t been drinking take the breath test for him. Or, if the drunk person didn’t have an accomplice, he or she could simply bring a filled balloon and let its air empty into the breathalyzer, thereby fooling the machine. Serious concerns.
So I called my cousin, Hank, an inventor (the Bacon Alarm Clock, the Cheesemaking Pedometer, the Wok-Phone) to ask if there’s some way to make the kiosks absolutely foolproof. Hank is the smartest guy I know. He has several degrees, and once was fired from Cisco Systems. After thinking carefully about the situation, Hank came up with the following.
1. First, you’d have to register everyone in Pennsylvania. Get their eye-scans and fingerprints. Then have the machine test them to make sure they’re really who they say they are.
2. But since this can be manipulated, you’d also have to get a DNA database going for everyone. The machine then would take a tongue scraping to make sure the DNA matched.
3. Faking a blood sample is very difficult, so the machine also would prick people’s pinkeys to match a predetermined blood type.
4. Somewhat more controversial, but vital, is a urine sample. Of course, this would entail a slightly larger kiosk, since some privacy would have to be accorded, and plumbing installed.
5. But still, the person might be drunk, so the machine would also have an attachment, like the Magic Teacup Ride at the amusement park, that would revolve and rotate the person at a high velocity. If the person is drunk, he’ll projectile vomit, an instant signal to the store manager that he should not be allowed to purchase wine.
6. All of the transactions between the applicant and the kiosk would, of course, have to be monitored by a physician, an attorney and a bureaucrat from the Liquor Control Board.
7. Since this would increase the cost of testing, a value-added tax would be levied on the bottle purchased. The exact amount is yet to be determined. The State Attorney-General is investigating the viability of including “value-added” options at the kiosk, such as a dose of Viagra into the wine, and a function for in-vitro fertilization.
8. To ensure that the person, once approved, did not drink the wine while driving, the person would automatically be handcuffed to the kiosk. Consumption could occur, but the handcuffs would not be removed until all alcohol had passed through the person’s system, which would require further blood and urine specimens.
9. Thus, the process will require the presence of porta-potties and cots.
10. Non-Pennsylvania residents will have to undergo autopsies before approval. Please bring proof of medical insurance.
It is thought that this process will not only make the roads safer, but the wine-buying experience more customer friendly. Oh, and if Penn. officials like Hank’s idea, they can send him a check for $1 million. Or an I.O.U. if the state is broke, like California. Whatever.