Will Utah lawmakers lower blood-alcohol driving limit to 0.05 percent?

A recent presentation before Utah lawmakers has ignited debate throughout the state as to whether the legislature is considering a move to lower the blood-alcohol limit for driving under the influence (DUI) in Utah from the current level of 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent - a move that industry advocacy groups claim is unnecessary.

The controversial presentation - which was given before the Business and Labor Interim Committee by a researcher from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation - focused on the potential impact of alcohol on a driver's cognitive and visual functions. While the researcher supported a reduced blood-alcohol limit of 0.05 percent for Utah drivers, the presentation also evoked a strong response from other interested parties.

Specifically, the restaurant trade association known as the American Beverage Institute disputed the researcher's recommendations stating that a lower DUI limit of only 0.05 percent would do little to curb drunk driving deaths and would only criminalize "perfectly responsible behavior" by adults.

In fact, according to a report in the New York Times, a DUI limit of only 0.05 percent would mean that an average 130-pound woman would only have to consume roughly two drinks before she was pushing the limit. Additionally, while a 180-pound man can drink four beers before reaching the current 0.08 percent limit, a 0.05 percent blood-alcohol maximum would drop his permitted consumption to only three beers.

Utah DUI laws

Utah lawmakers have yet to discuss the potential reduction in blood-alcohol limits, and thus it is too early to know if legislation will ultimately be introduced regarding this matter. However, many in Utah believe that there is simply no need for a DUI blood-alcohol limit reduction as that state's DUI laws are already significantly strict.

For instance, DUIs carry severe consequences under Utah law, including a class "B" misdemeanor charge for all drivers convicted of their first and second DUIs, which increases to a class "A" misdemeanor under any of the following circumstances:

  • The driver has inflicted "bodily injury" on another person as a result of operating the vehicle negligently
  • The driver has a passenger under 16-years-old in the vehicle
  • The driver is 21-years-old or older and has a passenger under 18-years-old in the vehicle

Additionally, Utah DUI charges become a third degree felony if the driver causes "serious bodily injury" to another or if he or she has two or more prior DUI convictions in the previous ten years.

Seek legal assistance if needed

As this article illustrates, DUI charges are a serious matter in Utah, which is why it is generally best to seek the counsel of an experienced DUI defense attorney if you are facing drunk driving charges. A knowledgeable attorney can review the facts of your arrest and help ensure your rights are protected.