Some laws passed by the Utah legislature go into effect without much more than a whisper while others meet with intense controversy before they are enacted. One such law previously discussed in this blog on March 17 is intended to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol limit to .05 from .08 (“Major change is coming to Utah’s DUI laws”). Since that time, the American Beverage Institute and others have begun a campaign aimed at getting the legislature to repeal the law even before its Dec. 30, 2018 effective date.
Will the ABI succeed in its efforts to rescind the new law? That remains to be seen. The ABI’s efforts to get the law repealed include advertising aimed at keeping tourists out of Utah. As is the case for most states, tourism provides a significant amount of income and supports numerous jobs. In 2015 alone, tourists spent approximately $8.2 billion here, which supported around 142,500 jobs.
The ABI is not the only organization attempting to get this law repealed. Other industries that rely on tourism and income from alcohol sales are also protesting it. It may be the potential loss of this type of income that prompted Gov. Herbert to suggest that the law might require some changes to make it less harsh on those with a BAC between .05 and .08. Nothing has been done to change the law so far, but that could change over the coming months.
A DUI conviction — whether at .08 or .05 — has significant consequences that reach far beyond the potential for jail time and fines, and the defense against such a charge under the new law could require new strategies. Even if changes are made, trial courts and appeals courts will undoubtedly be busy if the law does go into effect as planned. In the meantime, criminal defense attorneys will more than likely continue to watch what happens and plan accordingly.
Source: thespectrum.com, “Full-page ad pokes fun at Utah’s new DUI rule“, David DeMille, May 24, 2017