Utah’s new .05 BAC law goes into effect this weekend

Dec 26, 2018, 6:57 PM | Updated: Dec 27, 2018, 5:56 am
A national survey finds Utah the third safest state when it comes to drunk driving fatalities....
FILE: Utah ranks high among the safest areas to live in the U.S. when it comes to drunk driving fatalities. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s going to be the strictest blood alcohol limit across the country, and it goes into effect in Utah just after the stroke of midnight Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Ever since the lower blood alcohol limit was proposed, there has been strong backlash from people saying it would hurt Utah’s tourism.  Representative Norm Thurston says that didn’t happen when Utah dropped to .08.

“The next year, there was a significant increase in tourism,” Thurston says, adding, “I’ve lived in other places where they also have ‘wonky’ alcohol laws, but, the reality is, the message of ‘don’t drink and drive’ isn’t very wonky.”

Police across the state have been instructed on what to look for after the limit changes, and that instruction is to continue following their current protocol.  They’ll look for impaired drivers, then check their BAC afterward.

Thurston says the Department of Public Safety will be studying the number of people arrested when the change goes into effect.

“We think that that will go down.  We also think if that goes down, you should see fewer crashes related to alcohol.  We should also see, therefore, fewer injuries and deaths related to alcohol,” Thurston says.

Utah will be the only state that has the .05 limit, but, Thurston believes other states will follow, shortly.

“When we started this, Hawaii and Washington had bills that had been introduced and considered.  They didn’t pass, but, [lawmakers] are still interested in those states.  I’ve heard from people in California and New York,” he says.

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Utah’s new .05 BAC law goes into effect this weekend