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A new local business aims to reduce drunk driving—saving lives and helping bar patrons avoid costly DUI charges. BreathAdvisor enables customers at alcohol-serving venues to check their blood alcohol content anonymously before getting behind the wheel.
“The best idea is if you’ve had any alcohol to drink, just don’t drive. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen,” said Jason Knott, founder and CEO of BreathAdvisor. He hopes the BreathAdvisor kiosks will educate consumers about how their bodies process alcohol and, if necessary, convince them not to drive.
The BreathAdvisor kiosks are wall-mounted units that consist of a 17-inch touch screen display and a “law-enforcement grade” breathalyzer. Patrons simply breathe into a disposable straw, and the machine displays their blood alcohol content to the thousandth decimal point. The kiosks are linked to local taxi dispatchers, enabling patrons to request cab rides directly from the machine.
The company launched this month, installing kiosks in four venues: Lumpy’s South, Canyon Inn, Zest and the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City. The venues pay nothing to host the kiosks, while users pay a small fee of $2, said Knott.
He emphasized that the kiosks are entirely anonymous and do not store any user information. “We don’t track what people are blowing,” he said.
In the future, Knott said the kiosks will likely generate additional revenue through advertising. For example, on a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day or New Years Eve, a company could pay to sponsor free testing.
The user fee, said Knott, helps prevent consumers from turning the kiosks into a game of seeing who can get the most inebriated. But even when that happens, he said, the kiosks are still proving to be educational, showing patrons how their bodies process alcohol.
Many people mistakenly believe they are not too drunk to drive because they don’t feel impaired. Especially when they are becoming sober after an evening of drinking, they feel clear-headed in comparison to the peak of their consumption. However, that feeling is simply relative to the peak of inebriation, said Knott, and doesn’t reflect their true blood alcohol content.
“Many patrons have never used a breathalyzer until an encounter with law enforcement officials occurs, and at that point, it’s usually too late,” he said.
There are other breathalyzer kiosks on the market, but Knott said they are so shoddy and unreliable that bars and restaurants have been uninterested in the devices. BreathAdvisor relies on breathalyzer technology from Lifeloc Technologies, a company that provides law-enforcement grade, DOT-approved breathalyzers. He’s hoping to convince local venues that have had bad experiences with previous kiosks to give BreathAdvisor a try.
Knott intends to “prove the concept” in Utah, then expand the company into other states.
He developed the business concept while a student at Westminster College. He was enrolled in a business class that required him to create a business plan. He furthered developed the plan with the help of faculty and Westminster’s Center for Entrepreneurship, eventually earning a top 10 ranking in the college’s Opportunity Quest Business Plan competition.
“It's very exciting to see Jason Knott's business concept take shape and become a real business opportunity,” said Linda Muir, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “BreathAdvisor began as a business idea in the Westminster business plan competition two years ago, and it is very rewarding to see that our program can help spawn new companies like Jason's.”