Just in the past year or so, all 50 states have set their DUI threshold blood alcohol content (BAC) limits to .08 percent. Now, it appears the Beehive state, or as many really know it as the Mormon state, of Utah has raised the bar on drinking and driving accountability and lowered the BAC limit to .05 percent. Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert even signed it into law making Utah the most unfriendly drinking state in the nation. But, what this move has really done is make many wonder, if other states will follow suit towards a zero tolerance stance. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states lower the limit for BAC to .05. Despite the stiff recommendation, all of the states with the exception of Utah have set their BAC limit for a DUI at .08 percent.
The restaurant, hospitality, and skiing industry all urged Gov. Herbert to veto the bill, saying it would hurt the economy and punish responsible drinkers. It’s quite possible for certain people to reach or even be over the .05 BAC limit after only one drink. Height, weight, tolerance, and other factors help determine a BAC level.
“People are going to try to say this is a religious issue. And that is just absolutely false. This is a public safety issue,” said the Utah governor at a news conference.¹
Interesting Facts Surround Controversial BAC Limits
The following are some interesting facts surrounding the BAC limits for DUIs here in the United States, as well as in other countries, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- 28 people die every day in the United States in car crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
- The BAC limit in Poland is just .02 percent, and many European countries have BAC limits lower than .08 percent.
- Proponents of Utah’s new BAC limit of .05 percent say individuals feel a slight impairment after only their first drink.
- Even the National Transportation Safety Board reports that individuals are impaired after their first drink.
- To reach a BAC level of .08 percent, a man weighing roughly 170 lbs. needs to consume four standard drinks or beers in a single hour on an empty stomach. A woman weighing 140 pounds needs to drink three standard drinks or beers in one hour on an empty stomach to reach a BAC of .08 percent.
- Men are more than twice as likely as women to drive under the influence of alcohol and to be involved in a fatal collision than women.
- After reaching a BAC .08 percent, it takes the body six hours to complete rid itself of alcohol.
- When someone has a BAC level as low as .02 percent, alcohol can still affect that person’s driving ability and response time. The likelihood of a collision increases significantly with a BAC of .05 percent and even more likely after a BAC of .08 percent.
Why Won’t Utah Lawmakers Budge on Raising the BAC Limit?
“We did intend to lower the BAC limit and we did intend to reduce the number of drunk driving trips a day,” said Rep. Norm Thurston, a Provo Republican who sponsored the new law.²
Even though the bill won’t take effect until Dec. 30, 2018, Utah’s governor says the law had nothing to do with the state’s religious bent, and is really intended to help public safety. Yet, more than 90 of the state’s legislative 103 lawmakers are Mormons. Critics say they believe the new BAC bill is tied to the Mormon religion, which doesn’t allow consumption of alcohol. If it was all about public safety, they say, then the money would go to something else more public oriented, like:
- Spending on state patrol or technology to reduced speeding
- Spending on educating people on the importance of buckling up
- Spending money on monitoring older drivers and how their driving skills deteriorate over time
The above three mentioned items were the top three reasons for traffic fatalities in Utah in 2016, which DUIs and impaired driving ranked way back as the eighth most cause of driving deaths. The critics say, if public safety and saving lives were the top priority, they should have focused on distracted driving or some other cause for accidents that would save more lives.
Contact a Broomfield DUI Attorney at The Datz Law Firm
Were you wrongfully pulled over and law officers gave a fault reason for probable cause to search you and/or your car, and then cited you for DUI? If so, the Broomfield DUI Attorney at The Datz Law Firm is ready to champion your cause and see if it’s possible to get charges dismissed or a reduced sentence. Let us take the task of building you a strong case, so you can work on getting back to a normal life.
Most of our lawyers are former district attorneys, so our Broomfield DUI attorneys know how to attack weak police claims, phony charges, and fight for your rights. The sooner we set up a time to discuss options for defending you, the sooner we can investigate any false claims and start building a strong case for you. To schedule your free, initial consultation, call today at (720) 256-2404. Or, send us an email by filling out the contact form at the top of this page. We can either meet at our Broomfield office, or have a phone conference.
1“Lawmakers Review New DUI Law but Won’t Budge on 0.05 Limit” published in the US News & World Report.
2“In Their Fervor to Control Alcohol, Utah Lawmakers are Killing the Economy” published in the Standard Examiner, March 2017.