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Safety on tap at Depot Express via the IntoxBox

Bartender Maria Linow demonstrated how to use the IntoxBox at Depot Express in Alexandria on Thursday, January 31. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey1 / 2
The IntoxBox shows a customer's guessed blood alcohol content and their actual blood alcohol content. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)2 / 2

Two dollars could keep you out of jail and possibly save a life.

Some bars hopped on the electronic pull-tab bandwagon in recent months. Bill Seykora, owner of Depot Express in Alexandria, added a different game to his establishment, the IntoxBox.

The IntoxBox is a self-serve breathalyzer machine that provides a patron with their blood alcohol content (BAC) within minutes. Installed mid-January, the machine served more than 200 people during its first weekend in the bar.

"More people are cautious about drinking and driving than you know," Seykora said.

On Saturday mornings, Seykora has counted an average of 20 cars in the parking lot left there from the night before - proof that some people know their limits. The IntoxBox is a tool that will help customers learn how many drinks they can have before they are at an illegal level of impairment.

"The whole idea of it is for customers to figure out their limit," Seykora said. He described the IntoxBox as a game and an educational experience.

Customers insert cash, a credit or debit card and select how many tests they would like to buy. Two dollars buys one test; $5 buys three. Then, a person guesses what BAC level they think they will blow. Using provided sealed straws, the customer blows into the machine for five seconds. If they guessed their BAC right, they are rewarded with a free test for a member of their drinking party.

"It's kind of fun actually," said Depot Express bartender Maria Linow.

Bartenders at Depot Express keep an eye on patrons and are ready to call a cab if one is needed. Taxi numbers are posted in the entryway.

"People can have a good time and they know their level before they walk out the door," Seykora said. "Pay $2 to see where you are and if you're over, don't get in your car."

IntoxBox machines are Minnesota-made in Winona. The brainchild of Edina native Ryan Walden, a Cornell College graduate, IntoxBox machines have been installed in businesses in 15 states.

The company boasts using top-notch fuel cells to test BAC, the same used in law enforcement breathalyzers. IntoxBox units are self-cleaning and recalibrated once a month. Customers must agree to a liability disclaimer before testing their BAC with IntoxBox.

SOBERING STATS

Nearly 12,000 people die from alcohol related driving deaths in the U.S. each year.

47 percent of first-time DUI offenders believed they were below the legal limit.

85 percent of first-time DUI offenders said they would not have driven if they knew definitively that they were over the legal limit.

Info provided by intox-box.com.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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