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UWRF students implement breathalyzer at local bar

February 12, 2010

The restaurant and bar in River Falls known as Bo’s N Mine is set to introduce a new student- run business by placing a breathalyzer in its building.

SampairPetersen LLC was recently started by Rory Sampair and Alex Petersen, two business management students at the UW – River Falls. Its first, and only, order of business is the inclusion of a mounted breathalyzer in Bo’s N Mine. The breathalyzer will be completely voluntary and will cost one dollar for those who wish to use it.

“The purpose of [the breathalyzer] is just to allow people the opportunity to know if they are okay to drive after leaving the bar,” said Sampair.

A built-in straw dispenser will present the user with a straw that they will use to blow into the machine. This will keep the breathalyzer completely sanitary but still present the user with an accurate reading of their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The breathalyzer has a special sensor installed that is accurate for 500 uses, according to Sampair and Petersen. After the machine reaches 500 uses, the built-in sensor can analyze that it will not be able to register an accurate BAC reading and will shut down.

“We will have back-up sensors in order to keep up with changes,” said Petersen. “Either Rory or I are here five days out of the week anyway, but our number will be available if we are not around in order to change the sensor and keep the breathalyzer running without a problem.”

Sampair and Petersen both bartend regularly at Bo’s N Mine. Sampair has worked for the bar and restaurant for approximately a year and a half while Petersen has worked for the company for over two years. Cedric Ellingson, the owner of Bo’s N Mine, granted his two employees the opportunity to implement the breathalyzer into his bar in confidence of his two employees.

Sampair originally thought up the idea of the breathalyzer after a personal experience when he received a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and lost his driver’s license for seven months. Despite losing his license and always having to find rides wherever he couldn’t walk or ride his bike, Sampair said the financial costs also hit him hard.

“After my DUI I started looking for a personal breathalyzer I could keep in my car,” Sampair said. “No one ever knows exactly when they have had too much and I didn’t want to go through that again. I was actually at work one day when I thought that maybe instead of getting a personal breathalyzer, Bo’s [N Mine] could get one for everyone to use. I brought the idea up to Alex and that was basically how we started to get things moving.”

After Sampair’s initial idea, the two Bo’s N Mine bartenders began working together to bring this device to the establishment. Ellingson allowed the two to use his restaurant and bar as a platform for their idea, and both Sampair and Petersen said they hope they are not only successful, but generate a reputation of higher safety precautions in drunken driving for their company and establishments that use their services.

The machine should help lower traffic accidents for those who leave the establishment under the influence of alcohol. With its accurate readings, users should be able to better judge if they should drive or not after leaving the bar. A disclaimer that will be placed next to the machine, however, will state, “the only legally valid measure of BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is obtained by blood testing or other evidential method of measurement. This device is for screening purposes and should be used as a guide for self-monitoring only.”

The purpose of breathalyzer, according to SampairPetersen LLC, is only to give potential users and extra reason not to get behind the wheel after a couple drinks.