Belgium is one of the great beer countries of the world. With Belgian beer dating back to the middle ages, it’s fair to say that they’ve had some time to develop some of the best beers in the world. Bars and nighttime hotspots often boast over 400 beers on tap. With that much variety, it can make it difficult to leave without trying at least a few of them. Unfortunately, the beer-drinking culture has, in part, led to Belgians taking to the roads drunk.
A European nonprofit organization aimed at promoting driver safety initiated a one-night experimental drunk driving prevention technique at one of the country’s most popular nightclubs. Responsible Young Drivers installed a breathalyzer to the parking lot’s barrier gate of the nightclub, Carré.
Nightclub goers were informed prior to entering the parking lot that they would not be able to leave the parking lot without first providing a breath sample that indicated they were within the legal limit. Blow within the legal limit, and the barrier gate lifts. Blow above the legal limit, and it doesn’t.
Ninety percent of nightclub goers were allowed to leave the parking lot after providing a sample. For the other ten percent, they either had to sober up, have someone else drive, or find alternative transportation.
Could this work in the United States, or even in California?
It may work for specific types of venues like sports stadiums and arenas where the majority of parking is designated to a stadium specific parking lot. But the sheer volume of people and vehicles attempting to exit creates the problem of an incredibly jammed parking lot. If you’ve been to a sporting event, you know what I’m talking about. You may be drunk when you get to your car, but by the time you’ve gotten to the gate, you’ve sobered up.
What about bars and nightclubs? Again, maybe if the venue had a designated parking lot. But in Los Angeles and Orange County, rarely do patrons park in venue specific parking lots. Often bars don’t even have designated parking lots. And I doubt that bar owners would be on board with the fear that they’ll lose business.
Although good intentioned, the use of such a system would be impractical at least in many Southern California cities.