Like the rest of the country, Utah’s legal blood alcohol limit is currently .08 percent. One state legislator believes that is too high, and proposes a decrease of the legal limit to .05 in 2017 in accordance with the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board. If it passes, many more people could face DUI charges.
To put it in practical terms, a man weighing approximately 170 pounds would reach a .05 blood alcohol content (BAC) after approximately three drinks in an hour. It translates to approximately two drinks in an hour for a woman weighing around 130 pounds. The wine a Utah resident has with dinner could result in an arrest.
The goal of the change would be to save lives by keeping more people who consume alcohol and then drive off the roads. However, alcohol consumption is not the leading cause of traffic fatalities in the state. Speeding and failing to use a seat belt both cause more deaths each year. As many people in the state already know through personal experience, a person’s BAC does not have to reach .08 for an arrest to occur. Failing field sobriety tests and driving recklessly may cause a person to be charged regardless of his or her BAC.
This proposal might cause a surge in DUI arrests of individuals who pose no threat to the safety of motorists. More people could face penalties that jeopardize their personal and professional lives. More than likely, criminal defense attorneys will be watching the progression of this lawmaker’s proposal through the legislature. If it passes, the new law would undoubtedly be tested to determine if it actually produces the results intended.
Source: ksl.com, “Utah lawmaker proposes lowering legal alcohol limit to .05“, Daphne Chen, Dec. 30, 2016