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Lawmaker clarifies breathalyzer proposal in response to 'mischaracterizations'

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 11:02 p.m. MST

A lawmaker seeking to get breathalyzers in bars spent Friday clarifying his proposal in response to what he called A lawmaker seeking to get breathalyzers in bars spent Friday clarifying his proposal in response to what he called "mischaracterizations" of the bill. (Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — A lawmaker seeking to get breathalyzers in bars spent Friday clarifying his proposal in response to what he called "mischaracterizations" of the bill.

The bill, which has yet to be completed, would ensure privacy for patrons and not increase liability for proprietors, said House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper.

A breathalyzer machine would help drinkers make informed decisions about driving by allowing patrons to test their blood-alcohol level for $2 at the bar, Hughes said. The proposal would not require bar patrons to use the machines.

"It's not illegal to drink in Utah. It's not illegal to drink and operate a vehicle. It is illegal to drink to the point where your blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or higher and drive," he said earlier this week.

Hughes said it would be similar to having a speedometer to help people follow the speed limit. Easy access to a breathalyzer machine would help people, especially less experienced alcohol consumers, know what it means to be impaired.

"It’s not meant to be punitive to the patron to have it there. It’s not meant to be punitive to those that would put it in their establishments," Hughes said.

Emphasizing that it's still "a work in progress," Hughes said a future bill wouldn't address mitigating circumstances or provisions for mandatory machines in cases where citations have been issued.

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