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Magician: Lighter Fluid To Blame

March 16, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Magician and drunken-driving defendant Randall Richman swears he wasn’t drinking firewater. But he did eat fire.

Richman says he had just taught a fire-eating class in Hollywood when he was pulled over by police in 1999 for driving without his headlights on and going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Police said he was not carrying a license, his eyes were bloodshot, he could not stand and there was ``an odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage.″ A breath test measured his blood alcohol at twice the legal limit.

But the 32-year-old magician will argue at his April 12 trial that it wasn’t liquor that was detected; it was three types of lighter fluid.

The defense has worked before. In 1991, a San Francisco jury acquitted professional fire-eater Ted Maschal on similar charges.

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