Breathalyzer In Bars? Utah Lawmaker Wants To Require Them

Breathalyzer machines in Utah bars may become more commonplace thanks to a bill currently being developed. House Majority Whip, Republican Greg Hughes, is the man drafting the proposal. He believes the vending style breathalyzer machines could help customers make safe decisions regarding driving.

Originally, Hughes was proposing the bill to make the breathalyzer in bars law to be mandatory. Utah patrons are already well accustomed to the “Zion Curtain” laws which require certain alcohol to be hidden from view. Hughes said of his proposal, “the original idea was to really mandate that these breathalyzers … would be available in a club or bar.”

While many would not disagree with the potential benefits of such tools in bars and clubs, national media attention caused Hughes to take back the “mandatory” part of the bill. He held a press conference on Friday to announce that the bill would not make anything mandatory. Bar and club owners can currently purchase the machines on their own. One unit costs about $1,000 and users pay two dollars to take the digital test.

Pete Grimm of ‘Bout Time bar already offers the machines and that they are quite popular. In fact, some bar goers really enjoy using them. Other bartenders are not so certain. Some bartenders claim that the reading, which can not be used on any official basis, would make drinkers who are on the edge too free to drive when they shouldn’t. The real question is, if it is already an option, why even legislate with a breathalyzer in bars law?

After backpedaling on the mandatory part of the bill, Hughes claims that the bill would help protect the liability of establishments. The hope is that if they were cleared of any liability in the use of the machines, more bars would be willing to place them next to the juke boxes and pool tables. Also, law enforcement officials would not have access to the results of the tests. For Hughes, it just makes sense.

Although drunk driving deaths have been declining in the state of Utah, as they rise in the rest of the country, some still think the law could be helpful in protecting more and more establishments that choose to utilize the machines.

Do you think putting a breathalyzer machine in bars is a good idea? Would you use one given the opportunity?