Controversy Surrounding Utah’s New DUI Law

Drunk driving has become an increasing issue over the past few decades throughout the nation. With 0.08 being the legal limit for blood alcohol level (BAC), thousands of drivers each year surpass this limit, get into their vehicles, and cause severe and sometimes fatal accidents.

Utah is the first state in the country taking strides to combat drunk driving by making the DUI law stricter than ever before. On December 30th, 2018, Utah lowered the legal BAC for driving from 0.08 to 0.05.

While there was controversy surrounding this law with many saying the new law was too strict, members of congress agreed to enact the law believing that it would keep more drunk drivers off the road.

First State to Make the Change

Utah is the first state to make the stricter DUI law official, but there are other states discussing stricter drunk driving laws as well. California has begun discussing the same 0.05 legal limit as Utah and may not be far behind in passing their own law on the matter.

It’ll be interesting to see if Utah’s law prevents injuries and fatalities caused by DUI. If data proves a significant change, more states will likely enact the law.

Unhappy Members of the Hospitality Industry

Before the law went into effect, there were protests by members of the hospitality industry in Utah. Stricter DUI laws may significantly affect the business of bars, restaurants, and hotels. If guests have to stop drinking sooner to keep their BAC under the legal limit, they won’t spend as much money at these destinations.

Unfortunately for these hospitality business owners, safety and science won over their argument for decreased revenue. It’s more important to try and save the lives of Utah’s citizens by preventing drunk driving than it is to keep these businesses thriving with bigger profit margins. 

Science Sides with the Law

Research and science ultimately won the debate between protestors and passed the DUI law in Utah. A study showed that lowering the legal BAC from 0.10 to 0.08 reduced alcohol-related driving fatalities by 10 percent from 1982 to 2014. Using this data, researchers estimated that lowering the legal BAC limit to 0.05 could cut alcohol-related fatalities by 11 percent and save roughly 1,790 extra lives per year.

The National Transportation of Safety Board has been recommending since 2013 that all states lower their legal BAC limit to 0.05. We may see this recommendation become a reality in the near future.