Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bill Regulating Breathalyzers in Bars Clears Committee

Posted By on March 6, 2014, 8:09 AM

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Breathalyzer machines have started popping up in Utah clubs the last few years, offering patrons a fun and educational new bar game that actually allows them to test their blood alcohol content limit for a small fee. --- Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper moved a bill out of committee Wednesday to protect bar owners that use the machines from legal liability while also adding regulations to make sure they work properly.

Hughes House Bill 190 originally grabbed the attention of the media when the sponsor had entertained the idea of requiring such devices to be in all bars. Hughes offered a lite-version of his bill that he believed would support the devices in bars while also making sure they were accurately informing patrons of their BAC.

“If we have speed limits on the road and we want to know how fast we're going so we obey the law we check the speedometer in our car,” Hughes said. “If you are a drinker and you know there is a certain blood alcohol limit you need to be sensitive of, having a device on premises that would inform you as to where you're at we think is a good thing.”

Hughes told the committee these devices are already in use in bars so he wanted legislation that would protect their use but add quality standards. To that end his legislation would ensure that law enforcement could not try to access data from one of the machines. His bill would also offer liability protection to bar owners to protect them from being sued if someone used one of the machines and drove drunk and got in an accident.

The bill would also have notices posted with the machines letting patrons know acceptable blood alcohol limits and warning them not to use the breathalyzer immediately after having a drink since the test wouldn't be accurate. For bar owners to enjoy the liability protections they would, however, have to make sure the machines work and would have to them calibrated every 30 days or every 300 uses. Records of the monthly tuneups would have to be submitted annually to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

While Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, worried about how law enforcement felt about the bill he still supported its passage out of committee, as did the rest of his colleagues on the House Law Enforcement Committee who voted it out by a unanimous vote.

The bill now proceeds to the House floor for further debate.

To read House Bill 190 click here. To contact Rep. Hughes about this bill click here. To find your legislator to contact them about this bill click here. For more updates from the hill visit CityWeekly.net and follow @EricSPeterson and @ColbyFrazierLP on Twitter.

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