Kerns: Can Melton’s ‘Boozelator®’ stop tragedy from happening?

Posted by | October 30, 2013 | Blog | No Comments
A-J MEDIA ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR.

When Dave Melton mentioned the Boozelator 3001 breathalyzer vending machine he is making available to drinking establishments, my first thought was to pass the story to a news editor.

(OK, to be honest, my very first impression actually was that the name “Boozelator 3001” sounds like something out of “Back to the Future.”)

In any case, I tend to write more about musicians working at nightclubs, and less their fans buying drinks.

Plus, Melton, a part owner at Beef O’Brady’s, is creating his own secondary business. There already are plenty of details at TexansDrinkSmart.com.

But his story nagged at me, and no, I’ve never met Melton.

True, he wants help letting venues know about breathalyzers he can provide. I asked him if he had worked to push his own product, made his own cold calls, knocked on a few dozen doors. It turns out he’s been aggressive, sending almost 200 letters to venues between Amarillo and Austin, and in Lubbock.

Melton said he asked a Realtor why a bar had become available in a prime area, where students had gathered to drink and listen to favorite bands.

The answer involved a customer driving drunk, an accident and a fatality.

Melton said, “This prompted me to determine what, if anything, I could do to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. I researched breathalyzer machines and purchased several of the best on the market.

“I created a small business. … I realize drinking and driving will never be completely eliminated. But if my machines can raise awareness and prevent even one intoxicated person from driving, then the investment is worthwhile.”

In another discussion, Melton said he ordered 50 machines. These are not inexpensive. Obviously, he needs to get some placed.

Business owners working with Melton will “not be asked to pay a cent for setup or repairs.”

Breathalyzers are voluntary, he said — no one can be forced to use one — and are programmed to cost between $1 to $5 each time one is used.

Melton wants to charge $2 for each voluntary use of a breathalyzer.

I asked a friend for his thoughts.

Larry Simmons worked in the bar industry in the past, and presently co-owns the Tornado Gallery, 1822 Buddy Holly Ave. His is a small gallery and, of late, he focuses equal or more energy on his Depot Art, Farm and Produce Market that attracts increasing numbers on each month’s second and fourth Saturdays.

Simmons still books bands, but operates no bar. He advertises a BYOB policy.

“I had these (breathalyzer) machines in a couple of my places back in the day,” said Simmons. For me, they spelled Disaster with a capital D.”

He said, “They put them in, just like the guy (Melton) tells you — as an effort to control overconsumption. Unfortunately, some drinkers begin competing, using the breathalyzer. It became a game of ‘who can blow the highest?’

“Stupid? Yes.

“True? Yes..

“Plus, don’t lose sight that they also are a money-maker.”

I quoted Simmons to Melton.

He was not surprised.

The “who can blow the highest” game came as no surprise.

That is why he charges $2.

He does not want drinkers to feel it costs too much to use a breathalyzer.

“On the other hand,” said Melton, “if we charge more than $1, I feel this drastically lowers the numbers treating it like a game.”

Melton spoke with police officers and TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) officials.

“They favor these machines,” said Melton. “They said it gives people a chance to test themselves before getting behind the wheel of a car. Maybe someone who only thinks he has a slight buzz will check, and then call a cab instead.”

I see interesting aspects.

His Boozelator has an LCD screen for advertising — Melton is adding WiFi — and any venue using a device can draw up its own advertising.

I Googled the Boozelator, and most times I saw pages on its LCD screen listing names and numbers for cab companies and DUI lawyers.

Another positive: Melton invested in an updated, modern model reported to be an improvement over past, undependable breathalyzers.

That said, maybe someone needs to be somewhere else. He feels a buzz, decides to pay $2 to blow into a straw in private. Now he has to make a decision.

That’s all Melton wanted.

As he stated earlier, “If my machines can raise awareness and prevent even one intoxicated person from driving, the investment is worthwhile.”

The down side is difficult to see.

– www.lubbockonline.com (source)

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