Utah becomes first in the nation to lower the legal limit to .05

Washington D.C.—Today, the Utah Senate Passed H.B. 155, which would lower the legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit from .08 to .05. With Governor Herbert already on the record supporting the legislation, passage appears imminent. This will make Utah the first state in the nation to move to a .05 legal limit. The American Beverage Institute, which testified against the bill in the Senate Transportation Committee, strongly opposes the passing of H.B. 155 and similar proposed legislation in Washington and Hawaii. Lowering the legal BAC limit will negatively impact the hospitality industry, but won’t reduce traffic fatalities as intended.

American Beverage Institute Managing Director, Sarah Longwell, released the following statement in response to the bill’s passage:

By passing H.B. 155 and lowering the legal BAC limit to .05 Utah legislators have damaged the state’s hospitality and tourism industries, while doing little to make the roads safer. Over 77 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Utah are caused by people with BACs of .15 and above, and the average BAC of someone in a fatal crash is .20—well over twice the legal limit. Utah legislators missed an opportunity today to target the hard-core drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of drunk driving fatalities and instead decided to criminalize perfectly responsible behavior. A 120 pound woman can reach .05 with little more than one drink. Under this new law she can be arrested for driving and subject to fines, jail time, license revocation, increased insurance premiums and an ignition interlock, despite being less impaired than a driver talking on a hands-free cell phone. This law is so misguided even Mothers Against Drunk Driving refused to support it.

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