Just as sponsors of Utah’s reduction of the legal BAC for driving to 0.05 aren’t budging on the law or the limit (see May 22 Update), nor is the American Beverage Institute backing off its very public criticism of the change. In addition to ads running in Utah media, ABI is also running full-page ads in neighboring states featuring a mug shot of a woman with the text “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation,” reports the LA Times. More ads are reportedly on the way targeting tourists to think twice before vacationing in Utah. “Our ad isn’t provocative,” said ABI’s Sarah Longwell. “It’s the truth. What they are doing is provocative.” Tourism is an estimated $8.1 billion industry in Utah and the director of the state’s Office of Tourism acknowledges ABI’s ads “could have some impact. There is no question.” Recall, Governor Gary Herbert said he’d support tweaks to the law to prevent “unintended consequences.” And there has been talk of making driving between 0.05 and 0.07 BAC an “infraction” rather than a DUI charge. That’s still a possibility, as is repeal, since the law does not go into effect until December 31, 2018.
What’s More Dangerous in the Hands of an Impaired Person, A Gun or A Car? The bill’s sponsor, Rep Norman Thurston, does not support tiered penalties for different BAC levels, the LA Times reported. But he does support one tweak. Since Utah law bars anyone from carrying a gun while drunk, some “gun groups” are concerned the new BAC limit would apply to that law as well. Thurston “said he would be open to changing the law to keep the 0.08% standard for a person carrying a firearm.” Recall, one of the arguments Thurston and others used to pass 0.05 is that “impairment begins with the first drink.” Billboard suggestions, anyone?