Free Initial Consultation, Call (719) 473-9099

Home » Blog » Utah Now Has Toughest Drunk Driving Limits in the Country

Utah Now Has Toughest Drunk Driving Limits in the Country

On March 23, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert signed into law legislation that gives Utah the strictest drunk driving standards in the entire country. The bill lowers the state’s previous blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold from .08 to .05. The measure has been met with both support and opposition, namely from the governor’s office and restaurant and tourist groups respectively.

Utah’s previous BAC threshold of .08 kept in step with most national standards, but the new limit of .05 puts sizeable restrictions of alcohol most can consume before being considered legally intoxicated. As little as two alcoholic drinks can take a 150-pound male over the limit. As little as one strong drink could push a 120-pound woman past the legal limit.

While the governor’s office and legislative bodies of Utah consider the bill an important step in lowering the dangers of drunk driving, not everybody is buying it. According to the restaurant and other groups, the new law “is a total attack on the hospitality industry, customer, and tourism industry,” said Sarah Longwell, executive director of the American Beverage Institute. The group took out two full page ads in Salt Lake City’s daily newspaper as well as national newspaper USA Today featuring a mugshot and a large statement, “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation.”

The groups had urged Gov. Herbert to veto the bill, stating that the legislation would set standards to bring tourists into the state, and would present Utah as religiously isolated and unwelcoming to those who consume alcohol. Gov. Herbert, who is Mormon himself has stated that the bill is about safety and not religion. “People are going to try to say this is a religious issue. And that is false; this is a public safety issue.”

There are outlets who are pleased with the bill’s signing. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety applauds the legislation, and the National Transportation Safety Board has publicly stated that they’d like the see the BACs thresholds lowered across the country. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has taken a neutral position on the issue.

Herbert’s office does plan to meet in a special legislative session this coming summer to discuss the law, and specifically the appropriate penalties for those who are arrested with a BAC between .05 and .07. The law is slated to take effect December 30, 2018.

Post Tagged with,