(KUTV) While the recent DUI bill lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit from .08 to .05 in Utah is awaiting the governors signature or veto, a national beverage organization ran full-page ads in local newspapers on Thursday that poke fun at the Utah State Legislature's bill passage.
The current legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit nationwide is .08 percent, but Utah would make history if H.B. 155 is signed by Governor Gary Herbert and the Beehive State would become the first state to have the lowest legal BAC limit in the nation. Washington and Hawaii attempted to lower the BAC limit, but were unsuccessful during the legislative session.
One ad shows three photos with the title, "Utah Hospitality?" The first photo shows a couple up on the mountain slopes in the winter with the caption," Step One: Hit the Slopes. The second photos shows a group of people in a lodge drinking with the caption, " Step Two: Have a drink or two with dinner. The final photo shows a woman with her hands on a steering wheel with red and blue lights flashing in the background with the caption: Step Three: Get arrested driving home.
The advertisement, paid for by American Beverage Institute, has the following message at the bottom of the ad:
Utah just passed a new law that could land someone in jail for as little as one drink. This new law won't save lives, but it will make criminals out of moderate and responsible social drinkers and hurt Utah's tourism and hospitality industries.
American Beverage institute wrote an Op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News about Utah lawmakers passing the toughest DUI limit in the U.S. at .05 percent.
Depending on the person and their body composition, blowing a .05 percent after having one or two drinks can vary. There are a number of BAC calculators online.
DUI defense lawyer David Rosenbloom has handled more than a 1,000 DUI cases and told KUTV last week that if Gov. Herbert signs the bill into law it will bring him a new crop of clients. However, he says the idea is bad policy for Utah.
"If you have one drink, and drive within the hour, you're going to be over .05," he told KUTV. "You'd have to be crazy under this law to have anything to drink and drive."
Rosenbloom says Gov. Herbert should veto the bill, and the state should launch tougher restrictions against the "big fish," requiring interlock devices on cars for some of the worst DUI offenders for ten years. The Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association and Ski Utah have also asked Gov. Herbert to veto the bill.
The governor is said to be leaning towards signing the bill. In interviews, he said one out of four deaths on Utah highways is "related to alcohol."
"This allows for the typical male to have three drinks of wine with their supper and be okay, a female, maybe two glasses of wine," Herbert said.
The Virginia Tech Alcohol Abuse Prevention states it depends not only on how big your glass of alcohol is, but what kind of beverage it is. The organization has a BAC chart for men and women that gives people an idea who much they could drink based on their body weight. One drink is considered 1.25 oz. of 80 proof (hard liquor or a 12 oz. beer, or a 5 oz. of table wine.
The op-ed states that studies have show fewer than 1 percent of traffic fatalities happen to someone impaired below the .08 legal limit.
Sarah Longwell with American Beverage Institute called lowering the BAC to .05 a "ludicrous" idea and appeared on CNN. She said if we want to solve the drunk driving problem, we have to target those that are out there killing people and driving with a higher BAC "if we want to put a dent in the problem."
"If a driver is still willing to get behind the wheel after five or more drinks, lowering the legal limit to .05 won't suddenly change their behavior. But it will stop responsible adults from legally enjoying a drink with dinner before driving home," a narrator says in a YouTube video published by the ABI.
The Institute believes laws "should target dangerous drunk drivers" and not "moderate and responsible social drinkers."
ABI argues that The National Transportation Safety Board, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association, among other large nationwide organizations, are pushing for lowering the legal limit to .05 percent. However, the ABI says lowering the legal limit by .03 won't reduce traffic fatalities and save lives.
Another advertisement has the appearance of a "Thank You!" card with a made up message from neighboring state Colorado:
Haven't seen you for awhile (Wyoming keeps getting between us).
Just wanted to thank you for passing the .05 BAC law. Arresting moderate social drinkers for having as little as one drink will certainly make us look more attractive to most tourists, businesses and skiers. We know you've always been a little "quirky" when it comes to alcohol laws, but this is really out there.
Thanks for the competitive advantage!