Dabakis launches petition asking Gov. Herbert to veto new DUI limit law

Stock image | St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Not exactly thrilled about Utah’s pending law lowering the DUI limit to 0.05? Well, you’re not the only one. One state senator has created a petition asking the governor to veto the bill when it crosses his desk.

“I think Utah is making a very, very big mistake and the only person who can stop that mistake is Gov. (Gary) Herbert,” Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Salt Lake City said Wednesday.

Sen. James Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, speaks agaisnt 2017’s House Bill 155 during discussion on the Senate floor. The bill passed 17-12 and is poised to make Utah the first state with a blood alcohol content limit of 0,05, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 8, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

In its final week the Legislature passed a bill that would lower the state’s blood alcohol content limit from 0.08 to 0.05. The argument supporting the change is that the new limit will ultimately save lives by getting people to change their attitudes and habits related to drinking and driving.

Basically, if you choose to imbibe, best not to think much about driving at all and leave it in the hands of someone else.

Utah’s lowering the BAC limit is supported by the National Transportation Safety Board which has advocated for a 0.05 limit nationwide since 2013.

Dabakis’ online petition went live Monday and has garnered between 7,000 and 8,000 signatures so far, he said Wednesday.

While the petition does not have a solid deadline, Dabakis said, it will be delivered to Herbert “soon.” The governor has until March 29 to sign or veto the 500-plus bills passed by Utah lawmakers during the legislative session.

I think this will have a dramatic affect on tourism and economic development,” Dabakis said.

Dabakis also released a video on his Facebook page Wednesday evening detailing his issues with the lower DUI limit.

The article continues below the video

Utah already has a reputation for weirdness when it comes to liquor laws, he said, and a lowered BAC limit will cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Colorado and other states that compete for tourism and business could not ask for better, Dabakis said.

“As people in St. George and Washington County reach out to try to get economic development, let’s face it, they have to get through that weirdness factor.”

The new DUI limit may also end up punishing people for suspected alcohol-induced impairment where they would otherwise be fined under the current 0.08 limit.

People who may be criminalized under the new limit will find themselves having to deal with higher insurance premiums that can be a heavy financial burden, Dabakis said. In some cases people may end up going without, creating uninsured drivers, he said.

There are a lot of reasons this is a terrible law,” Dabakis said.

According to Dabakis’ petition, which echoes a statistic he shared while on the Senate floor voicing his opposition to the bill, “Fewer than 1 percent of traffic fatalities occur below the point 08 legal limit. This law targets the wrong people.”

It is now up to the governor to “show some political courage” and veto the bill, Dabakis said. “We’ll see if he has it or not,” he said.

The online petition asking Gov. Herbert to veto the bill can found here.

Ed. note: This article was updated to include the Facebook video from Sen. Dabakis.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • [email protected] March 15, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    May we remind the senator that Utah is already universally acknowledged to be unfriendly to visitors who consume alcohol in excess. Many of the visitors who enjoy the Big 5 National Parks come from civilized countries that have enacted a 0.05% BAC limit because it works.
    Perhaps when we peel back the onion skin we will see who is funding his political campaigns, and we will likely see the hospitality industry who profit off of the pain of victims of drunken driving.
    All we are asking is that folks who decide to consume alcohol in such volume that they become impaired, find a safe alternative to driving themselves home.

  • high5 March 16, 2017 at 6:15 am

    They OWN Utah- That’s the Thing. Remind em? ahh Hell Their Heads are buried in the Sand sir. No gettin em out . There are plenty of places outside of Utah. The Big Five are ruined for Revenue. All they do is Take Money from there members , do some good, but they infest the free unearned money for returns! Two Billion Dollars of Members donated Monies to rebuild City Creek Mall! RETURN ON INVESTMENT.
    The Lord will handle this. Leave it To Him. amen

  • high5 March 16, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Outside you are indeed. He wont veto this! is attention what you seek?

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