Breathalyzers in Bars May Save Lives


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Breathalyzers are the latest trend to be hitting bars across the nation, as a proposal from a state representative in Utah offers a plan that would include the alcohol level-testing machines in bars and pubs, according to the Associated Press.

Draper Republican Representative Greg Hughes has offered an up-and-coming proposal in the state of Utah which would allow bars across the state to activate breathalyzer-type machines in their businesses. Hughes says that the plan is not mandatory, nor will any data ever be released to police.

However, many bar owners in the area wonder just how effective the plan may be, and might it even worsen the statistics on drunk-driving deaths?

Says Bob McCarthy, the owner of Garage on Beck in Salt Lake City, "Somebody could feel they shouldn't be driving but the number says 0.08, which is right on the border, so maybe they'll go and they shouldn't go," later adding, "Just know how much you've had to drink and whether you're okay to drive."

McCarthy's question isn't that far-fetched; approximately 42% of college-age kids today admit that they are regular "binge drinkers." The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as "drinking so much within two hours that Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL, which is about four drinks for a woman, and five for a man."

The Century Council is a non-profit organization founded by a group of distillers in 1991 who were aiming to take action in the growing national problem of drinking and driving. That group now offers a National Advisory Board comprised of varying professionals who are dedicated to assisting the organization with implementing new programs and policies regarding drunk-driving awareness.

The Century Council's website offers national statistics relating to drinking and driving accidents, and the figures are astounding.

The Council says that according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association, in 2010 there were a total of 32,885 fatalities in the U.S. stemming from roadways and traffic accidents. Of those 32,885 deaths, nearly one-third of them were from drunk-driving accidents - 10,228 to be exact, which means that exactly 31% of traffic-related deaths in 2010 can be attributed to people who were driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Also outlined in the plan are measures to avoid scaring bar and restaurant owners away from the idea, stipulating that while the machines can cost up to $1,000, many places that currently have the machines charge up to $2 per reading for users, and that it can substantially help establishments fight potential lawsuits when a patron from their bar is in an accident after leaving.

Hughes says his proposal is a no-brainer: "It just makes good sense," the politician said.

Image via AlcoBuddy1, YouTube.