Breathalyzer Standards and Warnings May be Coming Soon

Rep Greg Hughes (Republican - Draper)
Rep Greg Hughes (Republican – Draper)

Portable, personal breathalyzer usage has grown over the years, and Representative Greg Hughes (Republican – Draper) has grown increasingly concerned about the accuracy and regulation of such devices to accurately report an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC).

It is for this reason that he his proposing HB 190 – Breathalyzer Amendments.

Hughes noted during his defense of the bill on Monday, during the House’s floor time, that such machines are already available in some bars. Because of this fact, Hughes feels that devices may not be accurately calibrated, leading to worries that breathalyzer manufacturers or bar owners may be opened up to legal ramifications if a drinker who had used the machine is pulled over. “There is a fear that these devices are not as accurate as advertised,” Hughes added, noting that the point of his bill is to create a more reliable standard of measure.

“We have speed limits on our roads and we have speedometers in our cars – they are meant to better inform us of how or if we are obeying the law,” Hughes noted in defense of such machines. “I think that patrons who are consuming alcohol, particularly young drinkers who may not know exactly what their blood alcohol level is, [would use this to better gauge their drinking].”

Hughes also noted that the bill requires that postings be placed around such machines that are designed to ensure users know that “impairment is the problem, not necessarily a 0.08 [BAC], and that you can’t be impaired [when you drive], and that anything over 0.05 [BAC] can be problematic.”

Representative Janice Fisher (Democrat – West Valley City) expressed concerns that breathalyzers would be used as a tool in “Utah’s newest game.”  To this end, she noted that she has received word from several in the medical community that they are convinced that drunk driving accidents and drunk driving deaths will rise if such machines are installed in bars. “It will be a game, and I am concerned that people will get hurt.”

“If we are worried about those games,” Hughes noted in his response to Fisher, “they can be played right now. This bill would make sure that these devices would have some standards in which they could abide by… they are already being used in some places in Utah.”

Hughes also address the sanitation issue, noting that these machines have disposable covers that are one time use only to ensure that usage is one-time and sanitary.

The House would pass the bill on a vote of 72-1 with the single dissenting vote coming from Fisher.

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