Washington, D.C.—Tomorrow, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) will be running a full-page advertisement in the Salt Lake Tribune highlighting the Utah legislature’s hypocrisy around the 0.05 blood-alcohol arrest level. Rep. Norman Thurston recently introduced amending legislation that would allow someone to carry a firearm at 0.05 BAC, while still forbidding them to drive at the same level. Thurston and other lawmakers who support his proposal can’t have it both ways—if someone is sober enough to carry a gun at .05, they should also be able to drive without the risk of jail time, $10,000 in fines and penalties, hiked insurance rates, and the social stigma of being labeled a drunk driver.
The full-page ad is headlined “Too Drunk to Drive, But Sober Enough to Carry a .45?” and features the picture of the gun carve-out bill’s author, Rep. Norman Thurston. The ad goes on to label the proposal as “Norm Thurston’s .05 Hypocrisy.”
View the full-page ad running in the Salt Lake Tribune here.
Sarah Longwell, ABI’s managing director, released the following statement:
Rep. Norman Thurston and supporters of the .05 gun exemption can’t have it both ways. If lawmakers believe that someone is sober enough to safely handle a firearm at .05, then it’s only logical that they are sober enough to operate a motor vehicle. It takes little more than a single drink for a 120 pound woman to reach the .05 limit and the new BAC law would put her in jail if she drives—despite the fact that she’s far less impaired than someone driving while talking on a hands-free cell phone. This amendment effort reveals the hypocrisy behind the .05 law’s fiercest defenders and calls into question their previous claims that someone at .05 is dangerously impaired. The Utah legislature should take this opportunity to readdress the .05 statute—perhaps by delaying implementation to further examine the issue or by moving to a tiered penalty system similar to those they have in Europe.