State lawmakers are considering legislation that would provide incentives for bar and restaurant owners to install breathalyzers in their establishments.A public hearing on the proposal, which would be one of the first of its kind in the nation, was held Friday before the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

“It’s a very interesting idea,” said state Sen. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, who serves as a ranking member on the committee. “It would provide some incentive for bar owners to have one of these devices and could reduce the likelihood that someone would drink and drive.”

The incentive would cut the maximum liability of a liquor permit holder from $250,000 to $100,000 in the event that a patron were to get into an accident while driving drunk.

The use of the breathalyzer would be voluntary for patrons, and the results could not be used in any criminal or legal proceedings.

“A bartender may tell a patron that they can’t have another drink unless they take the test,” O’Neill said. “Bartenders are supposed to be trained in observing if someone has had too much, but that can often be difficult when it’s really busy.”

The legislation would also require bar and restaurant owners with a liquor permit to post a sign that states they will arrange transportation, at the customer’s expense, for anyone who needs a ride home.

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