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Bar breathalyzers have arrived in the D.C. area

Tuesday - 3/20/2012, 5:38am  ET

The Boozelator accepts $1 bill and takes the blood alcohol reading after the customer blows through a straw. (Courtesy of

Andrew Mollenbeck,

BETHESDA, Md. - The question of how many is too many now has a straightforward answer.

Bars all over the country -- including one in Bethesda -- have installed breathalyzer vending machines as a way of informing customers of their driving capabilities.

"There are some women who said, 'Oh I had two beers,' and blow into it, and they realized, 'Oh, I'm actually at a .08, and I never would have guessed it,'" says Kevin Melanson, founder and president of the local distributor 729 Vending.

He installed a device at Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda, which hangs on the wall right next to the door.

"My best friend was killed by a drunk driver," Melanson says.

"Losing a best friend, and basically brother, is a reason to help the rest of the community out so that they don't have to suffer a similar situation," he says.

The machine accepts $1 bills and takes the blood alcohol reading after the customer blows through a straw. It does not leave a paper trail.

Lance Heffner, the owner of the "Boozelater 3001," claims the machine has been tested to show it being spot on to within two one-hundredths of a point, the website says.

Melanson is in the process of adding locations in the District. He says he's targeting a group that runs holiday parties.

"I've seen people lose their lives because of drunk driving," he says. "It's a major mission."

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