Sen. Jim Dabakis sought Wednesday to show anyone who would watch what it takes to get drunk in Utah.
In a push to ramp up pressure on Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill that would lower the legal driving alcohol limit to 0.05 percent, Dabakis brought two residents to a local watering hole, ordered them alcoholic drinks and aired live video on his social media as the people tried to gradually measure their blood-alcohol levels and see how quickly they would exceed the would-be drinking limit.
"We have a certain weirdness that is perceived about our state," said Dabakis, who proffered that the bill would pit Mormons, who are urged to not drink, against non-Mormons. "A lot of people who moderately and reasonably and safely drink are hurt to their core because they are being judged by people who just don't have any idea about the culture of a lot of people in the state" who drink.
The event was far from scientific, but within hours people had watched the 30-minute video more than 50,000 times, which Dabakis said was his most popular live-stream ever.
Dabakis apparently broke the blood-alcohol (BAC) monitor after he used mouthwash before blowing and registered a 0.5 percent BAC — 10 times the proposed legal limit.
The event effectively became a conversation with two local residents and the director of a restaurant association that opposes the bill.
Barbie Garcia, who lives in Holladay, lamented the thought of driving downtown to meet friends for a glass of wine and not being able to drive home.
Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, who sponsored the bill that if signed would make Utah's BAC limit the lowest in the nation, said Dabakis was just looking for attention.
He said studies show drivers are statistically impaired at 0.04 percent, and that he didn't care how many drinks it takes to reach the proposed legal drinking limit.
"It doesn't matter if it's fair or not, 0.05 is 0.05," Thurston said. "If you got there from one drink or 10, you should not be on the road."