Across the US, the DUI blood alcohol concentration (BAC) per se limit is .08 percent, giving most of us three or four drinks in an evening before we hit that dangerous, legal threshold. However, the danger actually can start well before the BAC limit, which is why Utah has pushed so hard to lower its DUI BAC limit to .05 percent. Starting in 2018, it may be the first state in the U.S. to succeed in doing so.
Technically, a lower DUI BAC can bring criminal charges in other states, too. Because buzzed driving or a DUI that is a combination of controlled substances and alcohol can be just as dangerous as a per se DUI.
For instance, Colorado and Maryland both have lesser charges for a .05 BAC, because buzzed driving is still drunk driving. The NTSB recommends the lower limit, and several other countries have that lower limit as their per se limit, similar to ours. Why aren’t all states on board with a lower DUI BAC limit? The biggest argument is that more DUIs occur at much higher BAC limits. That’s the same type of argument that has made ignition interlock expansion in each state a much slower process. However, even MADD doesn’t necessarily support efforts to lower the BAC limit, placing much more importance on expanding interlock access.
Last year, DUI fatalities in Utah decreased by almost 25%, while the national DUI fatality statistic rose significantly.
Always on the forefront of laws that keep residents safe, it isn’t surprising to see Utah take on this highly debated DUI BAC limit reduction. With this new law, the state stands as an example of how effective DUI and ignition interlock laws can significantly reduce the dangers of drunk driving. As the first state in the U.S. to lower the DUI BAC limit, Utah could possibly start an entirely new movement across the country.