A slim majority of Utahns oppose lowering the legal limit for driving under the influence from .08 to .05% according to a new UtahPolicy.com survey.
51% of Utahns say they oppose HB155, the controversial measure that was passed by the 2017 legislature. 45% say they favor the bill which was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert last week. Utah became the first state in the nation to lower the DUI threshold to .05%.
Herbert was the subject of an intense lobbying effort by opponents of the bill, including local restaurateurs and tourism officials who argued it would harm business and tourism.
The measure won’t go into effect for 18 months as lawmakers will study the issue for the next several months. Gov. Herbert intends to call a special session this summer to address any possible changes.
Opponents of lowering the DUI level painted the issue as a religious one, arguing that it was a done to favor the LDS Church, Utah’s dominant religion which eschews alcohol consumption.
Our survey found that only Mormons who describe themselves as “very active” were for the new regulations, while nearly every other religious demographic is opposed.
– “Very active” Mormons support the legislation 66-29%.
– “Somewhat active” members of the LDS Church are nearly evenly split on lowering the DUI level with 47% in favor and 48% opposed. – “Not active” members of the LDS Church overwhelmingly oppose the lower BAC level 73-25%. – Catholics oppose the lower DUI level 84-16%. – Protestants are against the lower threshold 79-21%. – Those with no religious beliefs are against the lower level 89-9%.
Backers of the new regulation say it will improve safety on Utah’s roads. Many countries in Europe have a .05 BAC limit or lower.
Not surprisingly, Republicans are for the new, lower level 61-34%. Democrats are opposed 83-12% while unaffiliated voters are against the law 60-36%.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted March 22-29, 2017 among 844 registered Utah voters with a margin of error of 3.37%.