Utah may become the first state in the country to have a legal blood alcohol limit of .05 after the state legislature passed a bill to lower it from the current .08. But members of the restaurant community are trying to get Gov. Gary Herbert to veto the bill.
Restaurant owners considered it a win when the legislature passed a bill giving more options to restaurants currently required to prepare alcoholic drinks behind barriers known as Zion Curtains. But they are unhappy with a bill sponsored by Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, to lower the DUI threshold, says Michele Corigliano, executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association.
“This bill is going to have the same stigma on Utah that the Zion Curtain did,” Corigliano says.
She added that in working on legislation to remove Zion Curtains, bill sponsor Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, reached out to restaurant groups for input. Her group never heard from Rep. Thurston.
“Nobody came to anyone in the industry or anyone in tourism to discuss how this is going to affect everybody,” she says.
Thurston and supporters of the bill say it could save lives. But Corigliano says most DUI crashes happen when the driver is already above the .08 level.
“We don’t want people to drink and drive,” Corigliano says, adding that a 120-pound woman could meet the .05 limit with one glass of wine.
“It makes having one glass of wine a potential criminal offense,” she says, “and we’re against that.”
Gov. Gary Herbert has said he will sign the bill. But Corigliano and other restaurateurs are holding a rally at the Capitol on Friday in an attempt to change his mind.