- As others have stated the DBI framework doesn't promise the example you outline to work so you aren't breaking anything that isn't already questionable, if you can even consider that breaking.
I don't advocate that syntax for a way of getting a count result. It to me is one of those "you could do that, but why?" kinda of things.
As long as you document the change in behavior I think this is the best move at present since you seem to be solving a larger problem then the one you may have created with the changes.