On December 30, 2018, Utah became the first state in the country to lower its blood alcohol content (BAC) limit to .05 percent. This isn't the first time Utah has been the first state to lower its BAC: in 1983 Utah was the first state to lower its BAC from .10 to .08 percent.
Despite having the lowest number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the country in 2017, Utah lawmakers said driving under the influence was still a problem in their state. Utah also has some of the most restrictive laws on consuming alcohol in the country, which includes selling only 3.2% beer in grocery stores and convenience stores. Utah is well known for having a population that abstains from alcohol for religious reasons, but the Utah Department of Public Safety said that over the last five years, DUI arrests averaged about 30 per day.
So what has changed since the new law went into effect? Are other states considering following Utah's lead and lowering their BAC limits?
Statistics Since the new BAC Law Took Effect
It's no surprise that Utah DUI arrests went up by 4.5% in the first quarter of 2019 thanks to the new BAC limit. In January alone, 38 people were arrested for DUI. Of these,
- 24 were “alcohol restricted,” meaning they were barred from drinking and driving because of a previous DUI;
- seven were underage;
- two had prescription or illegal drugs in their system;
- one refused a field sobriety test; and
- four were arrested under the new BAC limit.
The state's Office of Health Care Statistics has said it will take three to five years of data before they know the full effect of the new law. It can take 60-90 days to process DUI statistics because there is a long wait time in processing chemical test results every month.
Other States Considering Lowering BAC Limit
In 2017, Washington legislatures proposed a bill that would have lowered the state's BAC to .05%, and similar bills have been considered in Hawaii, Michigan, and California. Washington's House Bill 1874 has been stalled since 2018. Opponents of the bill said that it was so bad that even groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving opposed it and wanted to focus on strengthening ignition interlock laws and sobriety checkpoints, which is a known countermeasure of DUI.
DUI Attorney Steve Karimi
Steve Karimi has proven and effective legal skills to represent clients across the state of Washington. He is a former prosecutor who now works to defend people against DUI charges no matter how cut-and-dried the case may seem. Even if you failed a breath test during a DUI traffic stop, you still have options. Call his office today at 206-621-8777 or fill out an online contact form to learn how he can help you.