Ad running in Idaho urges people not to vacation in Utah over new .05 DUI law

Posted at 12:54 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-25 17:23:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- An ad running in an Idaho newspaper is urging people to skip Utah as a vacation spot in protest of the new .05 DUI law.

The ad, paid for by the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant and liquor industry lobbying group, ran in Tuesday's Idaho Statesman. It declares that it's "time for Idahoans to rethink their vacation plans."

An ad running in the Idaho Statesman newspaper protesting Utah's new DUI law.

Similar ads ran in both of Salt Lake City's daily newspapers in an effort to pressure Governor Gary Herbert not to sign the law. He did, but announced that he would call lawmakers into special session to address "unintended consequences."

The law drops Utah's Blood Alcohol Concentration level from .08 to .05, the lowest in the nation. Restaurant groups have pushed back against the bill, saying it will scare people from dining out. The Utah Highway Patrol has said it did not plan to change current enforcement plans to reflect the new law, noting they must still pull people over for suspected "impaired driving" and arrest them before conducting an intoxication test.

The ad, which takes aim at Utah's multi-billion dollar tourism industry, drew a sharp rebuke from Gov. Herbert's office. The governor was in New York City on Tuesday for meetings on economic development issues.

"It is not surprising that on a day when Utah is front and center in national media for having the recipe for economic success that interests in local states, envious of our record for economic development and quality of life, would try to misrepresent our evidence-based efforts to improve public safety," Herbert communications director Paul Edwards said in a statement to FOX 13.

In its own statement, American Beverage Institute said lawmakers should not have passed the law in the first place.

"What’s most disappointing is the Utah legislature is missing an important opportunity to target the hardcore drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of traffic fatalities. Most fatalities related to alcohol occur at levels more than 3 times Utah’s new arrest level. While focusing on attacking responsible consumers—not to mention vacationers—they ignore the dangerous alcohol-abusing fringe," ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell said.