Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64, is preparing to sponsor legislation for the 2017 General Session to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol concentration levels for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.05 for the general population.
“It’s a needed change for the whole country. It is well known that impairment begins with the first drink, but many drivers don’t realize that even low levels of BAC can degrade skills and increase the risk of crashes,” explains Rep. Thurston. “Lowering the legal limit will help reduce deaths, injuries and losses related to alcohol-impaired driving. More drivers will become aware that there is a significant increase in risk that occurs well before reaching 0.08.”
Legal limits at or below 0.05 are common throughout the world. Most European nations have a 0.05 legal limit, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland according to European Transport Safety Council. Examples of other countries with limits at or below 0.05 include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand and more. Countries, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, have 0.00 limits on BAC for general population drivers. Across the U.S., typically BAC for commercial drivers is 0.04.
“Utah can lead the way as the first state to lower the legal limit to 0.05 for the general population,” said Rep. Thurston. “This will make it more clear that drinking and driving is not acceptable. Furthermore, implementing this new standard can be done with minimal disruption to current law enforcement procedures, making this a win-win for the safety of Utahns on the road.”
In Utah, drunk driving is the third most common factor contributing to motor vehicle crash deaths over the past 10 years, with speed being first and unrestrained occupants being second.