Washington D.C.—Tomorrow the American Beverage Institute (ABI) will continue its campaign against Utah’s recently passed .05 law by running a full-page advertisement in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The ad warns Nevada vacationers of the potential to be subjected to DUI charges for having little more than a single drink before driving. And since Nevada sends the third most tourists to Utah—behind California and Idaho—they need to understand how the new law could impact them. ABI strongly urges Governor Herbert and the Utah legislature to repeal the .05 BAC law during the upcoming special legislative session this summer. We have also launched an online petition opposing the .05 law. In the meantime, ABI will also be in attendance at a June 21st hearing held by the Utah Transportation Interim Committee to defend both moderate, responsible drinkers and our Utah restaurant members.
The full-page advertisement features the mugshot of a women who “had one drink with dinner” and is titled “Utah: Come for Vacation, Leave on Probation.” It goes on to explain how lowering the arrest level would subject sober people—including vacationers who’ve had a small amount of alcohol with dinner—to jail time and harm the tourism and hospitality industries. The ad ends with the line “Time for Nevadans to rethink their vacation plans!”
View the full-page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal here.
ABI also launched a new online petition opposing Utah’s .05 law. It has garnered over 1,300 signatures after just 24 hours. View and sign the petition here.
Sarah Longwell, ABI’s Managing Director, issued the following statement on the law:
Supporters of the .05 legislation—such as Gov. Herbert and Rep. Thurston—may have good intentions, but lowering the BAC arrest threshold is a mistake. This law fails to target the dangerous drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of alcohol related fatalities and instead targets moderate, responsible drinkers. In fact, a 120 pound woman could be subjected to all of the consequences of a DUI charge after having little more than a single drink. It’s no wonder vacationers from neighboring states—such as Nevada—would think twice about staying at a ski resort in Utah with such a law in place. Little more than one drink after hitting the slopes could not only ruin your vacation, but could drain your finances and hurt your ability to get a job.
It would be one thing if lowering the arrest level to .05 would actually save lives—but all it really does is distract law enforcement officials from targeting the dangerous offenders with BACs of 0.15 and above who cause 77 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Utah. Conversely, only 1 percent of traffic fatalities involve drivers with BACs between .05 and .08 because at those levels, impairment is not meaningful. In fact, talking on a hands-free cell phone is more impairing than driving at the current BAC arrest level of .08 and simply driving over the age of 65 is more impairing than the proposed threshold of .05.
Utah lawmakers have an opportunity to fix their mistake by fully repealing the .05 BAC law in the special legislative session later this summer. That way, traffic safety officials can focus on the truly dangerous drunk drivers while allowing both vacationers and Utahans alike to enjoy a drink with dinner without the threat of jail.