It's a question that's gets asked so many times by so many people, am I legally ok to drive after drinking? It's a choice that's many times been the decision between life and death. Now, a breathalyzer vending machine is giving drinkers a little help when making that decision.
Patrons put in some money grab a straw, and wait for the machine to tell you to blow into tube. It then reveals your BAC, and lights up if you're under the legal limit to drive, or not. Patrick Vondra the Vice President of Clancy's and Club Patrick's says he likes patrons having another option.
"I have actually seen people who have used the device and then actually made a call to have somebody pick them up. So I think in the end that's the number one thing that we're looking for," Vondra explained.
Nightlife Vending says the Alco-Checkpoint is billed as a novelty device, and doesn't hold vendors, or bar owners liable. They've been installed at all 3 Clancy's in Omaha as well as 6 other places in just 3 months.
"You hear that saying friends don't let friends drive drunk, and it's really true, now we all have the opportunity to use the machine as a service to look out for your buddies," said Drew Berg, Co-owner of Nightlife Vending.
The machine says don't drink or smoke 10 minutes before taking the test. Bar owners say the two dollars is definitely worth the success stories that are possibly saving lives. Bob Freshman with the Phoenix Bar and Grill says that it's making people more aware, and responsible.
"Judging from the number of cab rides we've had over the past 30 days versus what it was before, i think people are taking it seriously," Freshman described.
Though sold as a novelty device, vendors say the accuracy of the sensors inside the machine are within .01% as long as someone doesn't drink or smoke for 10 minutes before using it. They also recalibrate them about every two weeks.
"Regardless of the reason why someone uses these machines, they're going to have the idea that they shouldn't be drinking and driving. Just reinforced every single time," said Hethe Berg, Co-owner of Nightlife Vending.
Bar owners say they don't feel the Alco-Checkpoint promotes irresponsible behavior or binge drinking because that's already in a person's behavior. But when it comes to asking the tough questions, the breathalyzer may stop someone from making a deadly mistake.
"One thing that we see all the time with these machines is that after they use it and someone blows over the legal limit, what happens is it's their friends who start asking those important questions like are you driving home?" Hethe Berg added.
Some bar patrons say they are seeing it used more for entertainment.
Kristy Prentis said, "At the end of the night you see a group of people trying to out do each other, so I think it's more for fun."
City prosecutor Marty Conboy, a huge proponent to stop drinking and driving, says these devices have a good side and bad side. The benefit is people pay attention to how much they drink, but Conboy says it might encourage people to get as close as possible to the limit before driving.
Nightlife Vending is hoping to put more BAC devices into other places around the metro and expand to Lincoln, and Council Bluffs. If you'd like more information on Alco-Checkpoints call 402-237-8844.