JUST IN TIME FOR NEW Years, Utah will begin to enforce the nation’s strictest drunk driving law, which will set the blood-alcohol concentration limit to .05 percent.
For a 140-pound woman, a .05 BAC equates to two drinks in an hour, and for a 170-pound man, it equates to a little less than three drinks in an hour, according to the Cleveland Clinic. These calculations are based on a standard drink, which is defined as 12-ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol, or 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol.
All states currently have a BAC limit of .08 percent, thanks to a bill signed by Bill Clinton in 2000, though they differ in their penalties for drunk drivers. Most states suspend a driver’s license on the first offense, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration.
Utah’s lower BAC limit is largely supported by health and transportation organizations, including the National Transportation Safety Board , because they say it discourages people getting on the road after drinking alcohol.
Nationally, 29 percent of total motor vehicle crash fatalities were a result of alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Utah, which is already known for its strict alcohol policies, had the lowest percentage of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities. In 2017, 19 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes were related to alcohol use.
Still, Utah’s legislation, which goes into effect on December 30, has received major opposition from the hospitality and tourism industries.
“I have no doubt that proponents of .05 laws are well-intentioned, but good intentions don’t necessarily yield good public policy,” Jackson Shedelbower, The American Beverage Institute spokesman, said in a statement.
He added that the new law focuses on moderate and responsible drinkers, as opposed to drivers with far higher BAC levels who are responsible for the majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to The Washington Post.