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In our opinion: Utah must fight for laws that drive the state in a safe direction

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Law enforcement agencies gather at Sugar House Park for a press conference to remind people not to drink and drive on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

The American Beverage Institute, a Washington, D.C., based alcohol-lobbying group, shares the same motivation as the alcohol companies that fund it — maximizing alcohol consumption and by extension their profits.

Utah’s new DUI law, however, threatens those profits, so the American Beverage Institute has launched an ever more offensive campaign to change it.

Its latest play is to target lawmakers who voted for the legislation who are over 65, publishing their photographs and names in an advertisement that was even condemned by longtime critic of Utah’s conservative alcohol laws, Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis.

The Deseret News declined to run the advertisement due to the personal nature of the attack. In addition to photographs of lawmakers like Gov. Gary Herbert, the advertisement claimed research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that those above the age of 65 are “more impaired ANY TIME they drive than (alcohol) consumers at Utah’s DUI arrest level of .05 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration).”

Aside from the dubious nature of the claim — we could not find any specific study making this claim online, and the advertisement did not include a specific citation — the logic of the American Beverage Institute argument seems to be that people who are 65 and older have a heightened level of impairment greater than those impaired at Utah’s DUI arrest level, therefore Utah should change its DUI law.

Yet…

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