DUI or “Driving While Old”?


Yesterday, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) announced a full-page advertisement in the Salt Lake Tribune. This ad, along with one run earlier this year (above), “Utah: Come for Vacation, Leave on Probation,” oppose Utah’s move to lower the blood-alcohol level from .08 to .05. The ads also really annoy Utah’s tourist and visitors’ bureaus.

ABI’s newest ad is sure to tick off old Legislators and blue-hairs in general by highlighting research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that reveals drivers over the age of 65 are more impaired than a driver with a blood alcohol content of .05!

If Utah lawmakers are prepared to jail someone who’s had so little to drink, then they should be prepared to bar people over the age of 65 from driving, is the ad’s point.

But within hours of the ABI ad’s publication Thursday, today, some people had already misinterpreted it to mean NO ONE over 65 should be allowed to drive.

The ABI explained the ad is making the opposite point—by demonstrating how unreasonable the new .05 law is.

Also on Thursday, Rep. Steve Hardy dropped his support for the law: “if I had to do it over again I would probably vote no. The penalties are probably incorrect. The penalties are maybe a little stiff.”

The ABI’s satirical full-page ad is headlined “Too Impaired to Drive?” and features the pictures of eleven Utah lawmakers, including the governor, who are 65 years and older. The ad then goes on to ask the question, “If Utah legislators believe drivers at .05 should go to jail, should those over 65 be arrested for DWO (Driving While Older)?”

Sarah Longwell, ABI’s Managing Director, issued the following statement, “While the new .05 BAC arrest level is no doubt well-intentioned, the core argument for the move is flawed. Proponents claim that a driver is notably impaired at .05, but that simply isn’t the case. Almost anything increases the risk of a car accident to some degree—even something as innocent as listening to the radio. With this in mind, Utah lawmakers need to put traffic safety threats into perspective and apply their finite resources to problems backed up by logic.”

ABI strongly continues to urge Governor Herbert and the Utah Legislature to repeal the .05 BAC law before it goes into effect at the end of 2018.

Those opposing the lower limit point to detrimental effects on Utah’s tourism, particularly in the restaurant and bar industries. And, surprisingly, Mothers Against Drunk Driving oppose the law because it will shift resources away from combating the real issues of alcohol addiction.

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