Rep. Thurston answers questions about .05 laws

A Washington, DC based restaurant trade association, concerned with what it calls the hypocracy of Utah State legislator Norm Thurston, expressed as much in a full-page advertisement this week in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Sarah Longwell, Managing Director of the American Beverage Institute (ABI), said the point of the ad was to prove if you are too drunk to be behind the wheel, then you are also too drunk to be handling a deadly weapon.

“Our ad is not opposition to gun use’” said Longwell, “but really just the hypocracy for Rep. Thurston to introduce an amendment that you can handle a weapon at .05 blood alcohol level no problem, but that that’s the same limit that he recently passed a bill saying that if you drove at that limit, then you are way too impaired to be driving and therefore you should get a DUI, jail time and $10,000 in fines.”

Contacted for a response Wednesday, Thurston said “I fully agree with her statement. When we made the change last year from .08 to .05, that also impacted possession of a deadly weapon.

“So, in December, that will be the same standard. In other words, the same standard will apply to handling a deadly weapon as it does to driving a car. And I am good with that.”

Longwell said there is more.

“Utah is particularly frustrating in that it passed this .05 law, yet has failed to implement its ignition interlock law which was passed several years ago to target actual drunk drivers, people who had been convicted.”

Rep. Thurston said she is wrong on that one.

“That’s false. We have implemented very strict ignition interlock laws. They are difficult laws to enforce, difficult here as they are everywhere. As you know, if you are required to have an ignition interlock on your car, you can always borrow a friend’s car. That’s a fact of life. We’re doing the very best we can.”

Longwell called on Utah to adopt Rep. Karen Kwan’s bill calling for a delay of the scheduled implementation of .05 next December.

Rep. Thurston said last fall the National Academy of Sciences released its most careful study ever on this issue.

“One of their top recommendations was if states lower from .08 to .05 it will save lives. We knew that before we passed the bill. So why would we want to delay a policy that both we at the state of Utah and the National Academy of Sciences believes will save lives?

“Utah is the first state to adopt the .05 threshold; we were also the first to go from .1 to .08. Now, all 50 states have done it. Now we’re the first go to .05 in 2018. I think you will see .05 becoming the norm.”

Longwell said the ABI tries to protect moderate, responsible social consumption, coming down hard on drunk driving.

“That is why it is important to make the distinction between what is dangerous drunk driving and what is non-dangerous behavior. This .05 law really blurs that line.”

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