SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s controversial .05 DUI law is likely here to stay.

In the face of opposition and ad campaigns targeting the state for the toughest anti-drunk driving law in the nation, the law’s sponsor expressed confidence the Utah State Legislature would not repeal what it passed earlier this year.

“There are people that want to revisit the issue that has already passed. Well, the legislature’s already spoken. The governor has already signed it,” Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, told FOX 13 on Monday. “It’s time to focus on other issues that we haven’t talked about.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be tweaks to the law, which takes effect at the end of 2018. On Wednesday, the Utah State Legislature’s interim committee will hear from representatives of the liquor, hospitality and tourism industry who have concerns about the law.

One of those critical of the new law is Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and now president of We Save Lives. In a weekend newspaper op-ed and in a subsequent interview with FOX 13, she called the law “unenforceable.” She urged lawmakers to focus on bigger issues like distracted and drugged driving.

“We have so many other issues, especially drugged driving, that is becoming more of a threat in some cases than drunk driving, that we should be focusing on,” she said.

Another group, the American Beverage Institute, has run ads in newspapers urging people to cancel vacation plans in Utah. The ads have antagonized lawmakers over their decision to pass the law. Rep. Thurston said he didn’t believe it was having an effect.

“The quote unquote bad press has all been generated by the industry that’s been complaining about the bad press,” he said.

Michele Corigliano of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association said she did not believe lawmakers would repeal the .05 DUI law, but hoped they would make changes to ensure local businesses did not feel a negative impact.

“What we have heard is conventions at the ski resorts have canceled for the main reason of this new law,” she told FOX 13.

Rep. Thurston said he was willing to discuss changes including dram shop liability, insurance, driver license issues and even a tiered system for people convicted of a .05 DUI.

“People talk about that and that’s a serious discussion of study. We want to try to figure that out,” he said.

In Depth on the Issue

Lowering the Blood-Alcohol Arrest Level

ABI strongly opposes lowering the blood-alcohol arrest level. The move is an attack on the restaurant and hospitality industries and converts their responsible patrons into criminals. Don’t allow your state legislature or municipality to be fooled by a false narrative linking a lower BAC arrest threshold with increased traffic safety.
More on Lowering the Blood-Alcohol Arrest Level →

Get ABI Email Updates

Sign up and get updates on the critical updates on alcohol policy that affect your business.