Utah has become the first state in the nation to lower its legal Blood-Alcohol-Content for driving to 0.05 percent, making it the strictest DUI level in the country.
Known for strict policies concerning drug and alcohol use, Utah previously lowered the BAC from 0.10 to 0.08 in 1983, nearly twenty years before other states followed their example and lowered the country’s overall alcohol-related traffic death rate by 10 percent.
With a history of “leading the way” on BAC policy, it is unknown if other states will copy Utah once again.
From December 30th onward, Utah residents will be subject to the 0.05% BAC rules when getting behind the wheel, making some folks think twice about how much they drink while out on the town.
According to a BAC calculator provided by DUIDrivingLaws.org, a 170-pound man drinking two beers over a period of two hours can manage to stay beneath the limit, while a third beer in that time frame would land the man in the back of a police cruiser if he attempted to drive.
Utah State Rep. Norm Thurston sponsored the bill in 2017 at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board, which has been pushing a nationwide 0.05 BAC since 2013.
“You would think that we’re already there as a society,” Thurston said.
Alcohol trade organizations, such as the American Beverage Institute, have condemned Thurston for the bill, claiming the change will do little more than target social, moderate drinkers.
For the the Utah Highway Patrol, not much is going to change for them- in all reality, enforcement often stems from how a person is driving in the first place.
“Troopers and officers throughout the state should already be arresting based on impairment, not based on a per se limit, and that standard is not going to change,” UHP Sergeant Nick Street told NPR.
Street believes that the new law has already been a change-maker, however, with people “making better decisions on the front end of a night” by pre-planning for designated drivers and ride-hailing apps.
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