Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits are set by the state, but for nearly 30 years all 50 states have shared a limit of 0.08 percent. Now, Arizona’s neighbors to the north have become the first state to lower their limits again.
As of December 30, 2018, Utah lowered its BAC limit to 0.05 percent for those who are considered driving under the influence (DUI).
Do new safety recommendations target social drinkers?
Utah State Representative Norm Thurston (R-64) sponsored the bill in 2017 at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The board has been urging states since 2013 to lower their BAC limits to 0.05 percent.
However, some critics believe the limit targets social drinkers rather than individuals who are driving drunk. At the current BAC limit in Arizona and 48 other states, a 180-pound man would need to consume four drinks to reach a BAC of 0.08 percent. For women of the same weight, it’s three drinks. The new law in Utah cuts the number of drinks in almost half.
The American Beverage Institute argues that targeting these drinkers is unnecessary. They say only two percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involve a driver with a BAC within the range of 0.05 and 0.08 percent, while 70 percent of fatalities involve a driver with a BAC of 0.15 or higher.
Time will tell if other states attempt to propose similar bills that limit the number of drinks drivers can consume without facing DUI charges. Utah was the first state to lower is BAC limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent in 1983, so there is precedent for them to start a trend.