Washington D.C.—Tomorrow the American Beverage Institute (ABI) will run a full-page ad in The Idaho Statesman opposing Utah’s move to lower the blood-alcohol arrest level from .08 to .05. The ad warns Idaho vacationers of the potential to be subjected to DUI charges for having little more than a single drink before driving. And since Idaho sends the second most tourists to Utah, it’s something to be concerned about. ABI strongly urges Governor Herbert and the Utah legislature to repeal the 0.05 BAC law during the upcoming special legislative session.
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 arrest level would subject sober people to jail time and harm the tourism and hospitality industries. The ad ends with the line “Time for Idahoans to rethink their vacation plans!”
View the full-page ad here.
Sarah Longwell, ABI’s Managing Director, issued the following statement on the law:
While the law 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 subjected to arrest, $10,000 in fines, hiked insurance rates, and the stigma of being labeled a drunk driver after having little more than a single drink. It’s no wonder vacationers from neighboring states—such as Idaho—would think twice about staying at a ski resort in Utah with such a law in place. One drink after hitting the slopes and you could be looking at jail time.
It would be one thing if lowering the arrest level to .05 would actually save lives—but that’s not the case. In fact, only 1 percent of traffic fatalities involve a driver with a BAC between .05 and .08. And that’s because of a simple fact, driving with a .05 BAC is not dangerously impairing. In fact, you are more impaired talking on a hands-free cellphone than you are at the current arrest threshold of .08.
What’s most disappointing is the Utah legislature is missing an important opportunity to target the hardcore drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of traffic fatalities. Most fatalities related to alcohol occur at levels more than 3 times Utah’s new arrest level. While focusing on attacking responsible consumers—not to mention vacationers—they ignore the dangerous alcohol-abusing fringe.