Company pushes breathalyzers in bars and restaurants

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Company pushes breathalyzers in bars and restaurants

More than half of Canadians feel bars and restaurants serving booze should be required to have breathalyzers for patrons, according to a report from a Toronto company that makes alcohol breath testers.

A survey commissioned by Alcohol Countermeasure Systems (ACS) found that 68% of respondents felt pubs, bars, and licenced eateries should be made to have on-site breathalyzers “to give patrons an accurate reading of their blood-alcohol” levels.

A good chunk of respondents also admitted being behind the wheel while unsure if they were over the legal limit.

“What we’ve done as part of the survey is really try and get an understanding of drinking and driving habits across Canada and the consumers perspective with respect to these devices,” said Tony Power, ACS marketing and communications manager.

Each breath tester costs $1,200, plus maintenance fees.

Andrew Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, sees lots of good in the idea, but said the benefits would be contingent on patrons’ use of the machines, as well as what they do with the results.

“These are good tools … They are as accurate as police breathalyzers, so they do give the person that is taking the test a good indication of their blood-alcohol level,” said Murie. However, Murie went on to explain that just because a patron uses a breathalyzer doesn’t mean they’ll end up making good decisions when it comes to getting behind the wheel.

Luke Erjavec, of Restaurants Canada — a not-for-profit association representing restaurant and food-service industry — sees potential problems with making breathalyzers mandatory.

“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,” said Erjavec, explaining that mandatory breathalyzers would inflict on the industry “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.”

An online consumer survey on Canadians’ drinking habits and views on impaired driving was carried out by the Leger research group in early February, and involved 1,546 participants.

Here are some highlights:

  •  68% felt bars, restaurants and licenced restaurants should be required to have on-site breathalyzers.
  • 33% said there were occasions where they drove while unsure if they were over the legal limit. This finding was significantly higher among male respondents.
  •  26% said there were occasions they drove while certain they were over the legal limit. Again, this finding was significantly higher among men.
  • 12% said they had personally used a breath-test device to ensure they were within the legal limit to drive.
  •  24% said even if they are “a little bit over the legal limit,” they are confident that “I am a safe driver.” A significant number of these were men.
  •  Results were accurate within 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.”