Bar Breathalyzer: Things to Know Before You Blow

Updated: 01/08/2013 12:20 PM KSTP.com By: Chris Egert

In 25 bars around the Twin Cities, you will now find a breathalyzer test hanging on the wall.  It's the brainchild of a local company that says it wants to prevent people from driving drunk.

How much is too much after a night of beers at the bar?  Minnesota made company Intoxbox wants to help guide your decision - with its breathalyzers. 

Ryan Walden is President and Co-Founder of Intoxbox.  He says, “It is not a legal test, you can't use it to get out of a dui, it is just a point of reference so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you should get behind the wheel."

Most bar patrons we spoke to Monday night thought the IntoxBox seemed like a good idea.  Burvis Beaty even tested it out for us.  Beaty said it would stop him from getting behind the wheel if he’d had too much to drink, “Yeah -- it would make me sit back for a while until it went down."

Minneapolis defense attorney Christa Grosheck has concerns. 

Groshek said, “I think there's a lot to be known about this piece of equipment."

Her experience has been that blood alcohol typically keeps rising - so a passing test at the bar doesn't mean a safe and legal ride home

And she wonders if prosecutors could use the bar test against you as circumstantial evidence? 

"It could be offered to show that the client, the defendant, had reason to believe they were over the legal limit,” Groshek told us.

She also wonders about the accuracy of the machines.

IntoxBox says they test the machines monthly -- but make it clear in a disclaimer screen that pops up when you pay your two bucks for a test -- the company and bar can not be held liable.

There are 70 bars around the country that have an IntoxBox.

The bars split the proceeds with IntoxBox -- and the bars don’t pay anything to have one.

We asked the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for comment on the IntoxBox.  Department Spokesperson Bruce Gordon said:

“We support ideas that can help advance traffic safety in Minnesota, but the first and best defense against drunk driving is planning ahead for a sober ride.

These devices may help deter someone from getting behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink, but drivers should not rely on their accuracy for legal or enforcement purposes. Test results can be impacted by various factors that could lead to imprecise readings.

The devices used by law enforcement agencies across the state are tested and maintained to ensure accuracy, and officers who administer breath alcohol tests have been trained in proper procedures.”

For a list of where you can find the machines you can click here.