Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, confessed to Senate colleagues that he was legally impaired while presenting a bill to delay implementation of the state’s strictest-in-the-nation DUI law.
“I had breakfast and then I went and had two mimosas,” Dabakis told committee members. “I breathed a .05. My entire presentation has been at .05,” he said to laughs from around the room, adding that he felt “perfectly fine.”
Utah will lower the drunk driving threshold from .08 percent to .05 percent at the end of this year.
Dabakis proposed putting it off until three other states lower their DUI limits too, arguing that most fatalities occur when a driver is impaired at levels well above the legal limit.
“The problem in Utah is not the .05 percent to .08 percent. That’s not where the deaths are, that’s not where the impairment is, that’s not where the problem is,” he said.
Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, authored the 2017 law lowering the legal limit. He spoke against Dabakis’ bill, saying Utah shouldn’t defer to other states. He pointed out that Utah and Oregon were the first states to lower the legal limit from .10 to .08 in the 1980s.
“If we had waited another seven years, we would have lost dozens of lives,” Thurston said. “If we think something is a good policy, we should lead out.”
Members of the Senate Transportation Committee voted down the bill 3-2. Lawmakers in the House will consider a similar proposal Friday morning sponsored by Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Taylorsville, which would put off the .05 law until 2022.