ST. GEORGE – Not exactly thrilled about Utah’s pending law lowering the DUI limit to 0.05? Well, you’re not the only one. One state senator has created a petition asking the governor to veto the bill when it crosses his desk.
“I think Utah is making a very, very big mistake and the only person who can stop that mistake is Gov. (Gary) Herbert,” Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Salt Lake City said Wednesday.
In its final week the Legislature passed a bill that would lower the state’s blood alcohol content limit from 0.08 to 0.05. The argument supporting the change is that the new limit will ultimately save lives by getting people to change their attitudes and habits related to drinking and driving.
Basically, if you choose to imbibe, best not to think much about driving at all and leave it in the hands of someone else.
Utah’s lowering the BAC limit is supported by the National Transportation Safety Board which has advocated for a 0.05 limit nationwide since 2013.
Dabakis’ online petition went live Monday and has garnered between 7,000 and 8,000 signatures so far, he said Wednesday.
While the petition does not have a solid deadline, Dabakis said, it will be delivered to Herbert “soon.” The governor has until March 29 to sign or veto the 500-plus bills passed by Utah lawmakers during the legislative session.
“I think this will have a dramatic affect on tourism and economic development,” Dabakis said.
Dabakis also released a video on his Facebook page Wednesday evening detailing his issues with the lower DUI limit.
The article continues below the video
Utah already has a reputation for weirdness when it comes to liquor laws, he said, and a lowered BAC limit will cause more trouble than it’s worth.
Colorado and other states that compete for tourism and business could not ask for better, Dabakis said.
“As people in St. George and Washington County reach out to try to get economic development, let’s face it, they have to get through that weirdness factor.”
The new DUI limit may also end up punishing people for suspected alcohol-induced impairment where they would otherwise be fined under the current 0.08 limit.
People who may be criminalized under the new limit will find themselves having to deal with higher insurance premiums that can be a heavy financial burden, Dabakis said. In some cases people may end up going without, creating uninsured drivers, he said.
“There are a lot of reasons this is a terrible law,” Dabakis said.
According to Dabakis’ petition, which echoes a statistic he shared while on the Senate floor voicing his opposition to the bill, “Fewer than 1 percent of traffic fatalities occur below the point 08 legal limit. This law targets the wrong people.”
It is now up to the governor to “show some political courage” and veto the bill, Dabakis said. “We’ll see if he has it or not,” he said.
The online petition asking Gov. Herbert to veto the bill can found here.
Ed. note: This article was updated to include the Facebook video from Sen. Dabakis.
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