Should bars be required to have breathalyzers on-hand?

Should your bar or restaurant be legally required to have breathalyzers on hand? Canada thinks so.

More than half of Canadians feel that bars and restaurants serving alcohol should be required to have breathalyzers on-hand for patrons, according to a new survey.

The survey was commissioned by Canada's Alcohol Countermeasure Systems (ACS) -- a company that makes alcohol breath testers -- found that 68% of respondents felt that bars and restaurants with liquor licenses should have breathalyzers handy as a way of giving patrons an accurate reading of their blood-alcohol level.

Of course, each breathalyzer costs $1,200 plus maintenance fees, so it wouldn't exactly be a small investment for bars and restaurants.

It would also require drunk patrons to be sharp enough to take the breath test before stumbling out to their cars. It also means the patron needs to be smart enough in their drunken stupor to realize they should probably take a cab home instead of driving after receiving their BA level.

I think there are things we are doing as an industry that are responsible, that are helping patrons. We’re continuing to train our staff and keep people in a very safe environment. [It would add] a lot of new costs for something that probably wouldn’t work very well in the long run because of the logistics, the scientific aspects, (and) the maintenance.
— Luke Erjavec of Restaurants Canada

A Utah Congressman tried passing a similar idea back in 2014 in the US. Republican Rep. Greg Hughes tried getting support to have bars in Utah each carry breathalyzers -- like the Boozelator -- to help drinking patrons know if they're safe to operate a vehicle.

He called the measure "good sense" but he was met with steep criticism, being accused of "taking draconian measures to make Utah's unique liquor laws stranger." He dropped the proposal shortly thereafter. 

While there's no real threat of such a law being passed in Canada or the US, it's an important reminder to bartenders and managers to keep a sharp eye out for patrons that may not be safe to drive. Bartenders should also be empowered by operators to cut patrons off if they seem to be a few drinks too deep.