The Push to Bring Breathalysers into Toronto’s Bars and Pubs

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ACS lobbies for Breathalyzers in Pubs and Bars

By: Gilbert Ngabo Metro Published on Mon Apr 18 2016

A Toronto company is at the forefront of a push for breathalyzers to be mandatory in all bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.

Saying they’re alarmed by results from a recent Leger survey that show drinking and driving is still prevalent, a national education and prevention campaign is being mounted by Alcohol Countermeasure Systems (ACS).

The study ACS is reacting to was carried out after the conviction of Marco Muzzo, who was sentenced to 10 years of jail after a drunk-driving crash that killed four people, three of them children.

Nearly 30 per cent of respondents said they’ve driven on occasions when alcohol in their blood was over the legal limit.

“These are very concerning numbers,” said ACS’s marketing and communications manager Tony Power. Though the majority of respondents – more than 90 per cent – are worried about their family and friends’ drunk-driving habits, it’s a different story when it comes to examining themselves individually, he said.

“Many of us believe our driving ability is that much better than the average,” he said. “Coupled with alcohol, that confidence level continues to increase.”

The group is teaming up with other advocates – such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) to bring pub owners on board. The move would improve patrons’ ability to decide whether they should drive, take transit or hail a cab after a good night out, he said.

Pat Penman, owner of the Football Factory pub near Bathurst and Queen, agrees.

“We’re all smart people. When you’re serving people you try to assess them and offer to help,” he said. A $2 breathalyzer that produces unofficial results is on hand at the soccer bar – with proceeds going to a charity – and Penman has had people leave their keys and come back to pick them up the next day.

“People are allowed to enjoy themselves, but alcoholism and overdrinking is a horrible thing,” he said.

Booze survey by the numbers

  • 78 per cent of respondents agree even a small amount of alcohol can impair a driver’s ability.
  • 38 per cent have driven when unsure or certain they’ve drunk over the limit.
  • 68 per cent agree pubs, restaurants and bars should be required to have breathalyzers available for patrons.