Blowing away our chances
Red Card Roberts
Park Record columnist
During my tenure as a Park City resident, I’ve often heard some iteration of the following: “There are too many people in town! Please stop advertising how great Park City is!”
It’s usually uttered in a moment of frustration — when the lift lines are long, or making a left hand turn requires Mario Andretti-like skill, or the liquor store is out of a favorite Vodka. And it often comes on the heels of some sought-after recognition — like being voted the best place to live, or the greatest small town on the continent or the top place to raise your dog.
I’d venture to guess most locals have felt this way at some point. “Bring us your tourism dollars, give us our tax breaks, donate to our causes, but please, don’t actually show up” seems to be our relatively misguided thought process. We want all the benefits of tourists without all the bother.
So the good news is, for what appears to be the first time in history, the Utah State Legislature has heard our concerns and acted upon them. State lawmakers recently gave the nod to HB 155, which would lower the state’s legal limit for blood alcohol content in drivers to .05 — the lowest level in the country. In other words: A DUI at point zero five.
It goes without saying that the majority of those who work at the statehouse are in very little danger of being pulled over and given a Breathalyzer test. The bill’s author, Rep. Norm Thurston of Provo, admitted he’s never even been in a liquor store. It’s always amusing to me that a predominately LDS Legislature tasks itself with alcohol legislation. It’s kind of like asking the National Hockey League to come up with new rules for golf.
Supporters of the bill argue it’s all about public safety. Which I could rally behind if the state Legislature hadn’t passed HB 76 a few years ago. That bill would have made it possible to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, but it was later vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert. It is also a little difficult to assume public safety is truly the intent when UTA stops running well before the bars close and such little attention is paid to distracted driving. At nearly any intersection in the state you’ll find a frazzled mom trying to control six unruly children in the back of a minivan, all while texting, fiddling with the radio and applying lipstick. We are not a state of focused and attentive motor vehicle operators.
Furthermore, in Utah, alcohol is not a leading cause of fatal automobile crashes. According to the Utah Highway Safety Office, drunk driving was a contributing factor in about 13 percent of fatal crashes last year. While speed played a role in 37 percent of deaths, and not wearing a seat belt was a factor in 31 percent.
If the state really wanted to crack down on drunk driving, then why not increase the current penalties for those convicted? Lowering the alcohol limit will only result in more stops, arrests and criminal charges of people who use a strong mouthwash. And of course, it will result in fewer people who actually want to vacation in Utah.
Between this bill and Utah’s lawmakers asking President Trump to rescind Bears Ears National Monument, which we all know resulted in the loss of the Outdoor Retailer shows, we no longer have to hope people stop coming to Park City. Our legislators will take care of that for us.
They’re doing such a good job of making Utah less appealing, I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to build a wall around our borders and insist Colorado will pay for it.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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