Utah –-(Ammoland.com)- Drunk driving bill has unintended negative consequences on gun rights.Contact Governor Herbert and ask him to veto H.B. 155. You can copy and paste.Act now, the Governor could sign the bill any day.
HB 155 – Driving Under the Influence and Public Safety lowers the level at which one is considered driving under the influence to .05 blood alcohol content (BAC) from the current .08. This bill directly effects gun rights as we describe below.
We are also asking that you contact the Governor and request that he veto HB 155. Contact information for the Governor is at the end of this alert.
As a gun rights organization, the USSC does not take any position on drunk driving laws. However, it has come to our attention that this bill has some unintended negative consequences directly related to self-defense and Second Amendment rights.
The section of Utah code dealing with firearms does not directly specify a blood alcohol content above which one cannot carry a dangerous weapon. Instead it says that one cannot carry a dangerous weapon above the blood alcohol content specified in the drunk driving section of code. This is the section of code being changed in HB 155. So, if this bill becomes law, it will be illegal to carry a dangerous weapon with a BAC of .05 or greater.
To understand how low this limit is, consider that a 100 pound woman would most likely reach this level after one beer and as such would be unable to carry a hunting knife, firearm, or even a stun gun. In fact, the limit is so low that, under state law, Utah law enforcement officers would be exempt from these BAC levels imposed by this bill in regards to carrying a firearm. The restrictions on carrying a dangerous weapon would apply at all times and everywhere including your home.
The USSC believes that it is not good practice to be shooting while drinking, nor do we believe that one should be allowed to carry a firearm while drunk. However, there is a big difference between actively shooting a firearm while drunk and simply carrying a firearm or hunting knife when one has had a beer. We believe that a person should not lose the ability to exercise their right of self-defense for having a small amount of alcohol in their system.
Another reason we believe the bill should be vetoed is because the gun rights issue was never brought up or debated during the legislative session. We believe that many legislators would have voted against the bill in its current form had they been aware of its impact on gun rights and the right of self-defense. If the Governor vetoes the bill, it will allow the legislature to consider lowering the BAC level for driving separate from any gun issues.
The reason it was never brought up was because no one saw it coming. We viewed it as a DUI bill outside our purview and missed the fact that Utah's weapons law, relating to carrying while intoxicated, referenced this section of code. We deal with other gun rights organizations, including the NRA as well as civil liberty groups, and as far as we know no mention of it was made by any of them. We also do not believe that Representative Thurston intended this as a consequence of his bill. We will work hard to ensure nothing like this slips through the cracks again.
Governor Herbert's office 801-538-1000
If contacting the Governor's office by phone, simply tell the receptionist that you are requesting that “Governor Herbert veto HB 155, the DUI bill, due to its restrictions on gun rights.”
Copy and paste:
Subject: Protect gun rights – Veto HB 155 Driving Under the Influence and Public Safety
Dear Governor Herbert,
Please veto HB 155 Driving Under the Influence and Public Safety because of the unintended consequence it would have on gun rights and the right of self-defense.
Utah code 76-10-528 prohibits the carrying of dangerous weapons when under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content as provided in 41-6a-502(1)(a) through (c). HB 155 changes this section of code to lower the level to .05.
While this level may or may not be appropriate for driving a vehicle, it is way too low for simply carrying a firearm or hunting knife. Under this law a 100 pound woman would be deprived of her means of self-defense if she drinks one beer.
Apparently the legislature never saw the connection between this bill and gun rights, and as such, this issue was never debated. I encourage you to veto this bill and allow the legislature to revisit this issue, with a full understanding of its effects on gun rights and the right of self-defense.