Utah, tourism and a .05 BAC — an S-E reader conversation

Saturday , November 04, 2017 - 5:00 AM1 comment

GREG HALLING, Standard-Examiner Staff

When Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill lowering the state’s blood alcohol threshold to .05, the lowest in the nation, he promised to make sure lawmakers fixed its “unintended consequences.”

That became nearly impossible in October when the Utah Substance Use and Mental Health Advisory Council sided with law enforcement and voted to support the new law, as signed by Herbert.

  • RELATED: “Gov. Gary Herbert signed a DUI bill that hurts Utah. Now we're stuck with it”

“A .05 BAC won’t make Utah’s roads appreciably safer. But it will hurt the economy,” we said in a Nov. 2 editorial.

Utah’s tourism industry generated $8.4 billion in 2016, according to a state report. It also supported 85,000 jobs.

That industry will suffer when tourists decide they don’t want to risk DUIs after a drink or two in Utah, we argued.

“Herbert tried to mollify everyone by signing a bad bill and promising to fix it. Now we’re stuck with a bad bill,” we concluded.

Here’s how readers reacted to the editorial when we shared it on Facebook. All quotes are verbatim:

Collette Housley Fuhriman: Everyone who really wants to drink will do so no matter what the legal limit is. This bill will not change a thing regarding drunk driving. Its too bad we have to wait 3 more years to vote in a new governor. Maybe one that isn't LDS.

Mj Dover: That will never happen.

Jolene Baird: Oh now that is funny!

Mitch Gunnell: Good, if you drink then drive and put other people's lives in jeopardy, you should be arrested.

Dawnette Anderson: It's sad though if you go to dinner you can't even have a glass of wine or a beer with your dinner you'll be legally drunk not all people that want a cocktail or glass of wine with dinner are drunks.

Christi Stephensen: I'm truly sorry, but it's the Utah voters that voted for Governor Herbert and all of the state and local officials. If you don't like the way they represent Utah then get out there and vote next week!

Ed Eldredge: Voting is great and all, but it seems that regardless of how many people who are fed up with the status quo, the red republican mormons always find their way in offices of power, anyway!

Carol Huddleston: That has to be the most ridiculous rationalization ever. I’m not a supporter of this governor but come on. Don’t drink and drive. Period. Don’t do drugs and drive period. What’s so hard about that?

Chris Hunt: I think more education of the law is what is needed. It won't change the way people drink or what or where. The purpose of the law is to encourage people who do drink to find a different way home. There are many options: bus, taxi, uber/lift, designated driver. If we get that out there, it will improve tourism.

If anything the "silly" laws have been loosened over the years.

If you want to drink, go ahead and drink, but don't do it and then get in the car and drive. Lives are more important than you having a "more convenient" way of getting home after drinking.

Shannon Maw Frickel: Actually, I have had tourists from other countries tell me they loved Utah, but won’t be back because of the ridiculous liquor laws. So yes, we are loosing out on tourism dollars, as a consequence of poor leadership in our state. There are many policies driving alway tourists and we have our “representatives” to thank for that. Representatives that are busy lining their pockets by companies stripping resources, from once federal lands, that are privatized using anti-large government, scare propaganda…

Melissa Maestas: Utah in general just doesn't know how to separate church from state... We're not all Mormon and some us like to have a drink with their dinner and now you can't even look at a alcoholic beverage without getting a dui. Not saying that it's ok to drive drunk anyway but 1 beer doesn't make you a drunk.

Christinne Westrich: I doubt seriously tourism will suffer! People don’t travel to drink. As a matter of fact -tourism numbers have increased significantly recently.

Steven Page: People dont come to utah to drink. But I bet people would love to have a drink once they are here.

Kevin W Campbell: He can't separate him self from the church of Mormons and that state of UT so let's vote him out and make Utah great again.

Jennifer Fisher Green: What an awful comment. I'm new to Utah and am stunned by the religious bigotry toward the Mormons. In the South, the Baptists wouldn't put up with attitudes like yours. The Mormons just turn the other cheek and bake y'all some cinnamon rolls.

Michael Shane: If people have the choice of CO or UT for skiing CO will win out due to the liquor laws in this State.

It’s not an implied that people will drive drunk (.05 is a Utah beer) it’s that the potential for them to get arrested for having a drink with dinner is higher here then in other states. Less threat in other places will provide them the tourist dollars that this state will lose out on.

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