Bar breathalyzers have arrived in the D.C. area

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

BETHESDA, Md. – The question of how many is too many now has a straightforward answer.

Bars all over the country — including one in Bethesda — have installed breathalyzer vending machines as a way of informing customers of their driving capabilities.

“There are some women who said, ‘Oh I had two beers,’ and blow into it, and they realized, ‘Oh, I’m actually at a .08, and I never would have guessed it,'” says Kevin Melanson, founder and president of the local distributor 729 Vending.

He installed a device at Flanagan’s Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda, which hangs on the wall right next to the door.

“My best friend was killed by a drunk driver,” Melanson says.

“Losing a best friend, and basically brother, is a reason to help the rest of the community out so that they don’t have to suffer a similar situation,” he says.

The machine accepts $1 bills and takes the blood alcohol reading after the customer blows through a straw. It does not leave a paper trail.

Lance Heffner, the owner of the “Boozelater 3001,” claims the machine has been tested to show it being spot on to within two one-hundredths of a point, the website says.

Melanson is in the process of adding locations in the District. He says he’s targeting a group that runs holiday parties.

“I’ve seen people lose their lives because of drunk driving,” he says. “It’s a major mission.”

Follow Andrew and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up