Do you know your alcohol limit? Newport police offer breath tests at bars and restaurants

Newport Beach police launched a campaign last week in which officers visit bars and restaurants offering customers breath tests in an effort to curb drunk driving in the city.

The “Know Your Limit” program, which has been used in several Orange County cities, is designed to educate patrons about how alcohol consumption can affect their bodies and ability to drive.

Three police officers and a sergeant approached people at three dining and drinking establishments on the Balboa Peninsula between 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, inviting them to participate in a preliminary alcohol screening in which their blood-alcohol levels would be tested by breathing into a handheld device. Of the 75 people who were asked, 41 agreed to take the test, police said.

Before the test, the participants were asked to disclose how much they had had to drink and whether they believed they could drive safely. After the test, the officers informed them of their blood-alcohol levels. The officers then explained the results and answered questions, police said.

The officers don’t ask the participants to identify themselves, but they do keep statistics on gender, age and city of residence, police said.

Officers will continue to visit bars and restaurants over the next year to conduct the voluntary tests. Businesses must give permission for the officers to enter, the Police Department said.

“The Know Your Limits campaign is not intended to be an enforcement tool or a scare tactic,” Sgt. Rachel Johnson said in a statement. “It’s an educational experience that also fosters positive, cooperative relationships between the department and the local residents and visitors to our community. The campaign is part of our multipronged approach to reducing incidents of DUI through outreach, education and enforcement.”