Breathalyzing club-goers targets the wrong customers
As university students on a budget, I think most of us are familiar with the concept of pre-drinking. Maybe too familiar. If you drink, you’ve likely sat on a friend’s couch with a glass of cheap booze, chasing after that little buzz that will get you rolling for the night. After all, who wants to spend $12 on a drink at the bar, when you can split a bottle with some friends at home?
Looks like the tradition is going down the drain—in London, at least.
According to the London Evening Standard, a new practice is being tested in some of London’s clubs: a breathalyzer on entry. The practice will “enable doormen to breath test revellers they suspect are intoxicated so they can bar them from entry.”
Ideally, this would cut down on violent crimes that are suspected of being the product of inebriation.
On one hand, my heart rallies against anything that can be seen as discriminating against people trying to save a quick buck. Even pre-drinkers aside—what of those who are bar-hopping? Pub crawls practically live in London—what of that time-old tradition? According to the article, officers even acknowledge pre-drinking, and target it specifically with this new procedure, hoping it “will cut down on binge drinking and ‘pre-loading’ where young people get drunk on cheap drinks before going out.”
The focus here is on “cheap drinks.” Why should it matter if people are getting drunk on cheap drinks before? A part of me can’t shake the feeling that there is an economic side to this debate. Is this really a question of cutting down on violence, or cutting down on people coming into your establishment without buying alcohol?
At the same time, I feel like if the violent crimes have reached the point where such a measure is required, this one simply does not measure up. The breathalyser would only trigger a positive (meaning a refusal of entry) if you are double the blood alcohol driving limit.
I can’t help but think that that’s really high. Yes, that will stop entry from people who should not be having any more drinks. But wouldn’t the rowdy bar-goers, the ones presumably causing mischief, be below that limit? In my experience, the people who have caused the most trouble have always been too drunk to drive, of course. But I imagine that by the time you are double that, you won’t be looking for a fight—just a toilet bowl, and maybe some aspirin for the morning.
I’m sure that this measure had good intentions, but all the good intentions in the world will not compensate for bad implementation. I doubt that this will have any effect on violent crime inside of London’s pubs and clubs—all it will do is alienate those who are trying to have fun on a budget, and maybe cut off some people that the bartender would have cut off anyway.
London’s officers could perhaps benefit from some nice, sober thought—maybe over a drink at my place.