Now take a deep breath

Christina Harper tests blood alcohol level
Student Christina Harper tests her blood alcohol while at Oak Tree Northwest Bar & Grill while bar manager Dave Wilton looks on. Photo by James Young/The Siskiyou

Breathalyzer machine helps you “check before you wreck”

Insert a dollar and blow.

That’s how simple and convenient it is to test your blood alcohol content with a new type of vending machine appearing in local bars and taverns in Ashland.

Southern Oregon University alumni Geoff McPherson supplied his breathalyzer vending machines to the Oak Tree Northwest Bar & Grill and O’Ryan’s Pub two months ago.

“They were a really hard sell. I was amazed,” McPherson said. “It’s so painfully obvious that they should be everywhere.”

The alumni said the machines are meant to help people make an educated decision about how they feel after they have had a drink.

“People can make an informed decision and say ‘Wow, I didn’t think I was that drunk,’” he said. “For the price of a beer, they can check before they wreck.”

McPherson, who used to be a bartender 30 years ago, decided to invest in the machines after seeing the affects a DUII can have on a person.

“A good tavern owner won’t want people to get one,” he said. “We’re not in the business of seeing people get in trouble.”

McPherson has yet to turn a profit on his investment, but he said customers are responsive to the idea.

“There’s a certain type of person that won’t use the machine,” he said. “But others will take the opportunity to see and maybe order a glass of water for the next round and let their body metabolize the alcohol.”

Student Kaley Watson is doubtful of the machine’s effectiveness.

“Irresponsible people might use it and still continue to make irresponsible decisions,” she said. “It’s good in theory, but it’s not practical.”

Leisha Price, 22, was more open to the concept behind the vending machines.

“If I was uncertain about whether I was sober enough to drive, then I most likely would not even try the vending machines because my doubt would be enough of an indicator,” Price said. “But if people feel like that would stop them from drinking and driving and they are accurate, then people should use them.”

The overall purpose of the machine is to help people make informed decisions when they drink and before they get behind the wheel of a car, McPherson said.

When in doubt, the best option is to have a designated driver available and “check before you wreck.”

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