Leader drops talk of mandating Breathalyzers in bars
Change • Rep. Greg Hughes tweaks direction after criticism in media.
Published: February 14, 2014 10:04PM
Updated: February 14, 2014 08:27PM

Forget the talk about legislators mandating Breathalyzers in Utah bars and clubs.

A day after saying he was working on a bill that may mandate them — especially in establishments with multiple code violations — House Majority Whip Greg Hughes called a press conference Friday to say that is now off the table.

He said he did that because his comments had been viewed in some national media as Utah taking draconian measures to make its unique liquor laws stranger.

“There will not be a requirement that bars or clubs have to have this Breathalyzer on premise,” Hughes, R-Draper, said, nor would any patron be forced to use such a machine.

Now, he said the bill will focus on protecting bar owners who offer such vending machines from being sued by patrons still driving drunk after testing high, or by patrons arrested after a possibly faulty reading. Also, the bill will aim to keep the testing anonymous and deny law-enforcement access to results.

Hughes said those provisions will encourage voluntary use of the machines.

Hughes said Breathalyzers could give patrons more information to make a decision about whether to drive.

Appearing at Hughes’ press conference were owners of several clubs and bars supporting the tweaked direction of his bill.

Pete Grimm, general manager of ‘Bout Time, said he already offers Breathalyzer vending machines, and says they are popular enough that they pay for themselves. “We’ve had no problems with them.”

Bob McCarthy, owner of The Garage, also expressed support for the concept. “I think if a bar owner has a choice to put them in and people’s privacy is protected, then it could be a good thing,” he said.