State lawmakers in Connecticut are hoping to cut down on DUIs with legislation they are considering which would provide incentives for bar and restaurant owners who install breathalyzers in their establishments. If passed, the legislation would be the first of its kind in the U.S.
State Sen. Arthur O'Neill (R-Southbury) called the idea "very interesting" and said he believes it could reduce the likelihood of someone drinking and driving.
The proposed incentive would cut a liquor permit holder's maximum liability from $250,00 to $100,00 in case of a patron getting into a DUI accident. However, use of the breathalyzer would be voluntary and results would not be permitted in criminal or legal proceedings.O'Neill says that it would allow bartenders to tell patrons they would not be allowed to have another drink until taking the test. He noted that they are supposed to have training to be able to tell when someone has had too much, but when busy, that can be difficult.
Bar and restaurant owners with liquor permits would also be required to post signage notifying patrons that transportation would be arranged, at the expense of the customer, for anyone needing a ride home.
Dan Mottola, a Bethel, Connecticut restaurant owner, said he has always made a point of finding transportation for customers who have had too much to drink, even going so far as to drive them home himself if necessary. He says that smaller bar areas like his make monitoring drinking easier, but the legislation could be useful in larger clubs where it is more difficult to monitor alcohol consumption.
Mottola said that it was worth consideration if it will prevent people from driving under the influence, getting into accidents, and harming others. "I'm all for it -- as long as it doesn't become invasive of personal rights," he said.