Breathalyzers may become fixture in Utah bars

breathalyzerWhen you’re out for the evening and having fun, how do you know when you’ve ‘crossed the line’ and had one too many drinks?  Getting behind the wheel after drinking is dangerous to both yourself and those on the road with you, and the only concrete way for you to know if you are sober enough to drive is through the aid of a breathalyzer.

That’s why Utah Representative Greg Hughes is proposing a bill that will install breathalyzers and similar devices in local pubs and bars across the state. Although the devices would be an optional installation for bars and optional for bar patrons to use, the proposed bill would make sure the business wouldn’t be held legally responsible should their customers fail the test then head out to drink and drive anyway.

Hughes hopes that the devices could get younger drinkers into the mindset of always checking for sobriety before leaving the bar and driving, and he’d like to see them set up in spots such as beside pool tables and jukeboxes.

Although the measure is designed to decrease drinking and driving, some bar owners in Utah have raised the question of how efficient the machines actually are. With .08 as the legal blood alcohol limit for driving, bar owners worry that registering a blood alcohol number like .07 or .06 may encourage a patron to drive when they should not.

Fatalities from DUI and alcohol related crashes are on the rise in Utah, with an increase from 25 in 2010 to 39 in 2011. There was also an increase in the number of DUI arrests for the female gender. Arrests for women made up 25% percent of total DUI arrests in 2010, and that number rose to 27% in 2011.

If the bill comes to fruition, the in-bar breathalyzers help drivers assess their blood alcohol level after a night out and may work to keep drinking drivers off the road in Utah.