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National group buys Nevada ads to target Utah DUI law

Updated May 26, 2017 - 4:25 pm

A national restaurant trade group is pushing Nevadans not to vacation in Utah after the state recently lowered its DUI threshold.

The American Beverage Institute, a Washington, D.C.,-based lobbyist group, is trying to pressure Utah lawmakers to repeal a law that lowered the state’s DUI blood alcohol content threshold from 0.08 to 0.05, which puts it at the lowest in the nation.

The group has bought one ad in Nevada, taking a full-page in Wednesday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, headlined: “UTAH: COME FOR VACATION, LEAVE ON PROBATION,” above a faux-mug shot of a woman holding a sign that states her crime as “Had one drink with dinner.”

The ad warns those planning to visit Utah that “as little as one drink with dinner” could be enough to land a person in jail for a DUI.

At the bottom, it reads “Time for Nevadans to rethink their vacation plans!”

The law will take effect in December 2018. But Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said soon after signing the bill in March that he will call a special session in the summer to address concerns surrounding the bill.

The ads are similar to ones run by the ABI in Utah when the law was going through the state’s Legislature. A similar ad ran in the Idaho Statesman last month, and Sarah Longwell, managing director for the ABI, says more ads are planned in western states in a push to get Utah to repeal the legislation that she calls “anti-alcohol.”

Utah state Rep. Norman Thurston, who sponsored the bill, said the law will help keep Utah’s roads safer by discouraging anyone who has had consumed any alcohol from driving.

“It’s meant to be tongue and cheek, but this isn’t a laughing matter,” Thurston said of the ad.

Thurston added he isn’t sure Las Vegas was the best spot for such an ad because he doesn’t think “anyone from Las Vegas, or Nevada in general, come to Utah to drink.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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