SALT LAKE CITY – Legislation is currently in the works that could place Breathalyzer or like devices in bars and clubs so patrons have the opportunity to test their blood-alcohol levels before choosing to drive home.
Yet to be formally introduced during the state’s current legislative session, Utah House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, has stated he believes the bill will help cut back on drunk driving.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Hughes had been discussing Thursday whether or not the Breathalyzers should be mandatory for clubs and bars, or just for places that have been cited for code violations. On Friday Hughes announced there would be no mandate placing the machines in bars or clubs. Rather, the legislation will focus on protecting businesses that opt to install such devices from liability. Use of the machine by patrons will also be voluntary.
“It’s not meant to be punitive to the patron to have it there,” Hughes said, according to KSL.com. “It’s not meant to be punitive to those that would put it in their establishments.”
Hughes said the bill would help people better recognize their limits, particularly those in their early 20s. Under current state law, the legal blood-alcohol limit is .08 for drivers 21 and up. For commercial drivers the limit is .04.
“It is not illegal in Utah to drink. It is not illegal to drink and drive,” Hughes said. “It is illegal to drink, drive and have a .08 blood level or higher.”
Patron data would be wiped from the machine each time it is used. If a patron fails the test and chooses to drive anyway, Hughes said the establishment where the over-the-limit voluntarily took the test wouldn’t be held liable.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement and video detailing its position and support of Utah’s current liquor laws on Jan. 21.
Ed. Note: This story has been updated Feb. 18; detailed update to publish separately.
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