On the Hill: Skiing under the influence
October 20, 2006
SALT LAKE CITY ” Drunken skiers may be thrown out of a ski resort, but they won’t have to worry about being thrown into jail. A Utah lawmaker is dropping a bill that would have made skiing under the influence a crime.
Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork, said ski resorts have addressed his concerns about ensuring visibly drunk skiers and open containers aren’t allowed on ski lifts.
“I just felt that the industry was handling that well,” Morley said. “They assured those of us concerned with that issue they’re going to take affirmative steps on their part.”
Most Utah ski resorts sell alcohol.
Morley said the steps include providing additional training for ski lift operators, prohibiting open containers of alcohol and prohibiting anyone impaired by alcohol consumption from using the ski slopes.
Dangerous and reckless skiers or snowboarders can already have their ski passes confiscated by ski patrol members or lift operators.
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Morley had received a complaint from a constituent that he had ridden on a ski lift last winter next to a man who was drunk and drinking from an open container. The constituent complained to the hill operator and the manager of the resort. Ultimately, he complained to Morley.
“In enforcing the no-open-container rule and watching for impaired skiers; that should handle the situation probably better than what [lawmakers] could do,” he said.
Morley said it’s already a crime if a drunken skier injures someone. He said he hadn’t gotten as far as deciding what would have been the blood-alcohol threshold for charges under the bill.
Nathan Rafferty, Ski Utah president, said drunken skiing isn’t a big problem on the state’s slopes.
“We really don’t see it a lot. That’s why it kind of surprised us,” he said.
All Utah resorts say they operate under the American National Standard for Safety guidelines, which calls for operators to deny access to a lift if they feel anyone is a danger to guests.
Rafferty said the ski industry always welcomes new ways to improve safety.