Bill would require breathalyzers in every Utah bar

Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-13 19:52:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill being drafted in the Utah State Legislature would require every bar in the state to install a breathalyzer for customers to use before they walk out the door after a night of drinking.

The bill, being drafted by House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, would not force drinkers to use them before leaving a bar -- but would be "informative," he said Thursday.

"It'll help people make better choices when they're deciding whether to operate a vehicle or not," Hughes told FOX 13 News.

Under the bill, restaurants would be exempted. Hughes insisted the breathalyzers would not collect any data on drinkers, nor would people be forced to blow before they walk out the door. He hoped it would prevent drunk driving.

"Hopefully, it will be a smart resource if they decide to leave and get in a car," Hughes said.

Many bars and clubs have already installed similar devices. Jason Knott, who founded Breath Advisor, created one after almost getting a DUI himself several years ago. For $2, people can check their blood alcohol content before leaving and it will even summon a cab for people too drunk to drive.

"I think it's surprising that it's gotten to that point, that it has to be required by law to have these," Knott said. "You'd think bar owners would realize it's a good idea, if it's executed properly."

Hughes acknowledged some pushback to his bill from bar and club owners. He said he was looking at ways to mitigate license violations for those that would have them, as well as addressing liability concerns if someone drove drunk anyway.

The bill is expected to be made public next week.