Utah claims to lead on DUI policy while coming in second worst in the country for enforcement of interlock laws for convicted drunk drivers

Washington, D.C.—Today, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) released the Utah Legislative Primer: Ignition Interlock Devices. The one-page document—sent to all Utah legislators—reveals the lack of enforcement surrounding Utah’s already existing ignition interlock (IID) law—which mandates convicted DWI offenders install in-vehicle breathalyzers if they continue to drive. These devices ensure that a driver is sober before the engine is engaged, making it impossible to drink and drive when installed.

However, the law isn’t working in Utah because it’s not being enforced. According to an independent investigation by KSL, 72 percent of Utah’s convicted drunk drivers failed to install the mandatory device. And another report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation ranked Utah’s IID compliance rate second worst in the country. The poor performance reveals a disconnect between the disbursement of traffic safety resources and effective strategies that have been proven to combat alcohol-related fatalities. Lowering the arrest level to .05 will simply create a new class of targeted drivers that dilute resources further.

Read the Utah Legislative Primer on ignition interlocks here.

Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, released the following statement:

You can’t claim that Utah is leading the country in fighting drunk driving when it has the second worst record in the nation on ignition interlock compliance. Utah legislators who are looking for the best way to save lives on the roads should focus on enforcing existing laws targeting convicted drunk drivers rather than passing new ones that target moderate social drinkers. It’s important to ask Representative Norman Thurston and other supporters of the .05 bill why they’re pushing a controversial bill that will hurt the tourism and restaurant industries instead of ensuring that the 72 percent of convicted drunk drivers in Utah install their ignition interlocks as ordered. It’s these high-BAC and repeat offenders who cause the vast majority of roadway deaths in Utah, not drivers who had a drink with dinner. It’s time to repeal the .05 law and replace it with real enforcement of ignition interlock policies.

In Depth on the Issue

Ignition Interlocks

ABI supports the use of ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders and first-time offenders with BAC levels of .15 or higher, but opposes laws requiring low-BAC first-time offenders to install interlocks. States already lack the resources to ensure that the most dangerous drunk drivers — who are responsible for the vast…
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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.
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