Lindsay Lohan is not exactly toasting her latest public appearance.
A mugshot of the 21-year-old actress, who has been in and out of rehab after two arrests last year on drunken driving and cocaine charges, was prominently featured Friday in an advertisement attacking legislation for devices that measure a driver’s blood alcohol level before their vehicle can start.
The full-page black-and-white ad appeared in USA Today on Friday and was paid for by the American Beverage Institute, a trade group that supports the interests of the alcohol industry. The ad reads “Ignition interlocks are a good idea for” above Lohan’s mug shot from her July 24, 2007 arrest and “But a bad idea for us” above smaller photos of people drinking.
“The reason that we used Lindsay Lohan is because she’s had multiple DUIs that have been high profile,” American Beverage Institute managing director Sarah Longwell told The Associated Press. “We needed to create the distinction for the public what someone with multiple DUIs looked like versus a low blood-alcohol-level first-time offender.”
Lawmakers in several states have passed bills that would require drunken driving offenders to pay for and install an ignition interlock system. Under many such laws, the interlock requirement extends to first-time offenders driving while “highly intoxicated” — or with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher.
The ad suggested that ignition interlocks were fine for “hard-core” drunk drivers, but suggested they would bring an end to champagne toasts at weddings, wine at dinner and ballgame beers.
“USA Today is idiotic to run such an irresponsible advertisement suggesting that drinking and driving is some kind of American ‘tradition’ we should protect,” Lohan’s lawyer Blair Berk said in a statement. “Not identifying that this ad was paid for by the liquor and restaurant industries is profoundly reckless.
The American Beverage Institute stood by its use of Lohan’s image.
“People magazine, Smoking Gun and a lot of people have republished this mug shot,” said Longwell. “It was publicly accessible. We’re not using it for any kind of commercial gain. So we’re well within our rights to use it.”
Reached for comment about Berk’s statement, USA Today spokesman Ed Cassidy issued the following statement: “Advocacy advertising is a big part of what we do. Our pages function as forum for competing views.”