Washington D.C.—Tomorrow, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) will run a full-page ad in USA Todaythe Salt Lake Tribune, and Deseret News opposing efforts to lower the legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit from .08 to .05. ABI strongly urges Governor Herbert to veto H.B. 155.

The full-page ad features the mugshot of a woman who “had one drink with dinner” and is titled “Utah: Come for Vacation, Leave on Probation.” It goes on to explain how lowering the legal limit would subject sober people to jail time and harm the hospitality and tourism industries.

View the ad here.

If Governor Hebert decides to sign the legislation, Utah will become the first state in the nation to move to a .05 legal limit.

Sarah Longwell, ABI’s Managing Director, issued the following statement on the legislation:

While the bill is no doubt well-intentioned, it is a mistake to lower the legal limit to .05. At this level, a 120 pound woman could be subject to arrest and penalties for having little more than one drink. Proponents would have you believe that a driver is dangerously impaired at .05, but science does not back them up. In fact, you are more impaired driving talking on a hands-free cell phone than you are driving at the current legal limit of .08. Which means that a driver at .05 is significantly less impaired than a driver engaging in what we think of as responsible cell phone use. That is the level at which the Utah legislature has decided a person should be subject to arrest, $10,000 in fines, attorney fees, increased insurance costs,  not to mention the social stigma of being a “drunk driver”. The law simply goes too far and would criminalize behavior that is presently considered moderate and responsible in the rest of the country.

What’s most disappointing is the Utah legislature is missing an important opportunity to target the hard core drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of fatalities on Utah’s roads. Most fatalities related to alcohol occur at levels more than 3 times the proposed arrest level. While focusing on attacking responsible consumers they ignore the dangerous alcohol-abusing fringe in our population. Resources would have been better spent ensuring that high-BAC and repeat offenders are installing ignition interlocks as ordered or implementing the 24/7 sobriety program, which is also currently on the Governor’s desk.

We would welcome working with the Governor and Representative Thurston to pass legislation targeting these serious offenders. As our ad says “Let’s Work Together to Solve the Real Drunk Driving Problem.”

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 →

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