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Lawmakers OK Breathalyzer bill

Published March 14, 2014 12:24 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

HB190, a bill that would make it legally easier for Utah bars to offer Breathalyzers to patrons, made it through the Senate Thursday and now goes to the governor.

Senate sponsor, Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, said the devices are already being used but making them more easily available helps people measure their blood-alcohol level and make a responsible decision whether to drive. It's not illegal to drink and drive, she said, but it's illegal to drink while impaired.

Some lawmakers were concerned the increase in the number of Breathalyzers in bars would backfire, encouraging binge drinking to get a higher alcohol blood level.

But Henderson said the devices are already being used and they don't eliminate personal responsibility. "Like a speedometer in your car, people can still speed. It's there to tell you how fast you're going. That's what these machines do. It's up to the individual to have responsibility," she said.

Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St.George, said Breathalyzers serve as a tool that people can use for good or bad. "It's not a cure-all but it is a tool to help," he said. "I like the intent that people can test to see how impaired they are when they're leaving."

The bill also sets quality standards requiring vending machines to be calibrated every 30 days or after 300 uses, and requires single-use tests to be rated at 99.8 percent accuracy.

amcdonald89@sltrib.com

twitter: @amymcdonald89