Belly Up and Breathe!
Those who have teetered on the edge, trying to decide if they are safe to drive or not, now have an option to take away the guesswork – and the possibility of a free night in jail.
Entrepreneur and student, Jason Knott, nearly had a DUI when he decided it was okay to drive after a night out instead of hail a cab like his friends did. He mulled over his decision, walked himself through a few field sobriety tests, then got behind the wheel to head home.
He was stopped. And when he blew in the officer’s breathalyzer, he discovered he was borderline, but he erred on the wrong side. He registered a blood alcohol level of 0.081 – a mere .001 over the legal limit.
“I thought I was screwed,” Knott said in an interview with The Park Record. “When the police officer came back to the car, I told him if I went to jail, I would lose my job. He said he was not giving me a DUI, but that I needed to pull the car over and call a cab, which I did.”
Nothing to spur creativity like a close call. Knott was wishing he had had a way to more accurately gauge his sobriety level, as the call was close enough to impress on him the importance of being sure, rather than guessing, if he were over the legal limit.
To that end, he created BreathAdvisor, a Utah company that puts accurate breathalyzer kiosks in bars and restaurants, so that patrons would not have to repeat his mistake. With a $40,000 grant from the Westminster College’s Technology Commercialization & Innovation Program, alum Knott is putting the kiosks in businesses that serve alcohol. Patrons who choose to use the machines pay $2 to ‘blow and be sure.’ Bars pay nothing to have the machines. Knott also plans to share grant money with other students by creating internship programs, since he credits the college’s entrepreneurship program for assisting him in creating a successful business plan.
“I’m excited to contribute to the opportunities available to students interested in technology and innovation, ” said Knott to the Westminster News.
Knott had seen breathalyzers in businesses before, but compared them with novelties since they were grossly inaccurate. He sited an incident where he blew into one of those devices and got wildly fluctuating levels. Even after several cocktails, the machine only registered 0.02 – a level he knew was too low. Another patron registered a 0.4 – an amount that should have sent the drinker to the emergency room!
“The products out there seemed like cheap, hokey machines. They’re for entertainment purposes.”
Knott’s machines use the same technology as the police officer’s, as accuracy was key to his business plan. He wanted the machines to be easy to use with step-by-step instructions. He wanted them accessible. Eventually he would like to expand the free breathalyzer tests (with the help of sponsors) to taxi dispatch services and other relevant businesses who may be interested. They have also added other incentives for businesses to carry their product.
“For the bars the cost is… nothing,” said BreathAdvisor marketing director Sebastian Hooker on a Utah Stories site. As incentive, the company will share a portion of the proceeds.
“Owners have no reason not to want this in their bar,” Knott told the source. “the only resistance we have seen is from owners who had previous machines that were inaccurate.”
Since the machines are basically a touch-screen computer connected to the internet, the design allows for advertisements in real time and for useful information to be posted, such taxicab phone numbers.
And their business slogan?
“BreathAdvisor’s got your BAC.”
If you have a problem with alcohol, or know someone who does, get help before you get the DUI. Call the professionals at Intervention Services to find the type of help you need.
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