Breathalyzer Tests for Pedestrians?

A new study from the University of Adelaide, commissioned by Australia’s Motor Accident Commission, finds that randomly breath-testing pedestrians is the most effective method of fighting “drunk walkers,” who pose a serious problem in Australia. “As one public health advocate put it, we have a blood alcohol limit for driving, why not for people walking next to traffic,” said Paul Hutchinson, the study’s author. “People already have the power to take into protective custody drunk people who are a danger to their or others’ safety.” (HT: Brett Rogers)[%comments]

Next they'll be testing bloggers.

And the roads should be made safer for the drunk drivers.


This law would not fly in the US, unless it was in reaction to a headline, "Drunk walker kills family of 5."


People in the US get arrested for drunk walking all the time- public intox. It varies from state to state, but in some states just walking home from a bar, even if you're quiet and minding your own business, can land you in jail.


How about just injecting everybody with nanochips that will monitor blood alcohol levels and test for illegal intoxicants? They could be programmed to notify law enforcement as needed.


You can always have a designated driver, but you can't have a designated walker. One person can drive for five but that one person can't make sure that five people are walking safely. I'd say your better off scheduling for that designated driver ahead of time.


Jrunk walkin' ish mah god given RIGHT! Why else would I have move downtown?


The difference between drunk driving and drunk walking is that the driver's risks other's lives by driving drunk as well as their own, whereas the pedestrian is only risking their own. Given that I don't see the same moral imperative to curtail the activities of the pedestrian that apply to a driver.


Is drunk walking REALLY that dangerous? Sounds like bunk to me.


Here in Adelaide there has been a lot of talk about this. What penalty awaits the offenders, the letters to the editor ask. Ban them from walking for six months? Confiscate their shoes?

Mojo Bone

My local municipality has an eminently practical take on this matter, especially considering that we host a major university. Obviously intoxicated pedestrians are picked up, and if found to be under thirty are fined and/or referred to alcohol counseling and a deferred judgement program, meaning no further consequences or permanent record,pending six months without further alcohol-related violations. If over thirty, they're held in the drunk tank overnight, released the following morning, and are generally not charged by the prosecutor, so long as there are no outstanding warrants and they didn't insult or assault the arresting officer(s) and haven't committed a similar alcohol offense for the previous six months. I believe the policy achieves the desired result of discouraging drunk walking without clogging either the courts or the jail. I only wish our national drug policy could one day be similarly logical and cost-effective. Underage drunk walkers, however, will have their driver's license revoked, (huh?) plus a fine, and a blot on their permanent record, which sucks more than a little for those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, since conviction records are expunged for juveniles on reaching adulthood.



The premise that "drunk walkers" only risk their own lives is false. If a driver accidentally hits and injures / kills a drunk pedestrian who is at fault, they would suffer psychological harm. Similarly if they swerved to avoid such an incident they may hit a solid object or other car and cause an injury to themselves or another driver.

I live in Sydney and can tell you that on a Friday or Saturday night, drunk pedestrians are a big problem in the city, especially for buses and Taxis.

What is the BAC threshold that is acceptable for a person walk down the street?


Are you kidding me? So as soon as the people see a cop car, they'll just run into the bushes and hide...what are they really trying to accomplish here?

Casey Roberson

There is public intoxication in the US. I'm a college student. I think if your drunk walking down the road minding your own business, you should not get a ticket or jail. What happen to freedoms? Is this congresses wayof protecting us from ourselves? The only way I would understand , is if the person intoxicated was interference with other's rights/freedoms. AKA: That's when you get arrested for public intox.

Robyn Ann Goldstein

what about walking while you are talking on the cell- I see people doing it- and they act drunk/drugged i.e., as if completely oblivious to their environment.


The idea that drunken pedestrians are a serious threat to others is not reasonable. Anyone who suffers serious psychological harm from injuring a pedestrian who is putting themselves at risk should probably just stay home. In fact, this is probably the driver who will overreact to any situation (e.g. come to a screeching halt whenever a pedestrian puts a single foot in the roadway) and will put more lives at risk.

The total number of "innocent" deaths from drunk pedestrians can probably be safely rounded to zero. However, if this is the philosophy you're going to use then we should apply the same rules to pedestrians using their phones (as Robyn points out), joggers listening to their iPods, and any number of other POTENTIAL hazards.

If there is a place where someone believes there is such a high percentage of drunks that this a serious concern you can station a police officer who will write up tickets or incarcerate anyone who is a REAL danger (i.e. the guy who actually stumbles in front of traffic, rather than the guy you think might do so).

The proper BAC limit for pedestrians should be that for which the individual can keep from violating actual laws, rather than being a potential hazard. In other words it will vary by individual and by circumstance, so there is no point in testing BAC at all.



So we should all just stay at the pub all night if we don't have a ride? sounds fun to me.


why not ban alcohol completely? if you can't drive or walk home from the bar, what are you supposed to do?