Senator Dabakis turns to social media to convince governor to veto new DUI bill

Posted at 6:08 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 20:51:22-04

SALT LAKE CITY –Senator Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, wants Gov. Gary Herbert to veto the new .05 DUI bill, and he took to social media to show people what they would have to consume in order to get picked up on a DUI.

He conducted an “unscientific experiment" on Facebook.

“If you're just joining us, we're sitting here drinking on Harvey Milk Boulevard at the tap house, and we're trying out Utah's new liquor laws,” Dabakis says during the video.

Dabakis gargled mouthwash and then blew into a breathalyzer. He said he registered a 0.5 blood alcohol content.

“Right now under the new standard I am 10 times DUI, and all I've had is mouthwash," Dabakis said.

The 30-minute clip also showed other opponents of the bill, a man and woman, and the director of a restaurant association. It’s been viewed 175,000 times as of Thursday afternoon. Dabakis hopes it gets the attention of Governor Herbert before he decides to sign the bill into law.

“We deal with wonderful, fabulous legislators that have no clue about alcohol,” Dabakis said.

Tourism will suffer according to Dabakis. People will choose not to spend money at local establishments in fear of getting a DUI.

“They made criminals to people sitting down to a spaghetti dinner and having a glass of wine," he argues.

The American Beverage Institute laid out that sentiment in a pair of ads featured in local newspapers.

Colorado thanked Utah for “the competitive advantage" in one satirical ad.

The other ad questioned Utah’s hospitality with the notion of being arrested after having a drink with friends at dinner.

“What they didn't mention in the ad is that there`s a step in between, which is choose to drink and drive; if you choose to drink and drive and you're impaired, then you'll go to jail,” said Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo.

The sponsor of the bill says the ads and Dabakis’ video miss the mark, which he says is that a lower BAC limit will save lives.

“The issue is when you're at .05 you're impaired," Thurston said. "It doesn't matter if it took you one drink or 10 drinks. You shouldn't be driving if you're over .05."

The Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association is organizing a rally to urge Gov. Herbert to veto the legislation, which is scheduled for Friday at noon at the Utah State Capitol. Dabakis plans to attend the rally and lend his support to the effort.