Utah Becomes First State to Lower DUI Limits March 12, 2019
Utah recently introduced a .03 percent decrease to its driving under the influence (DUI) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit – and it is the first state to do so across the country. Originally at .08, the state now has the lowest BAC concentration allowed at .05. Utah was the first state to implement a .08 limit back in 1983, so this recent move should come as no surprise. The state hopes to make a big impact against alcohol-related car crashes that every year results in hundreds of thousands of debilitating injuries and deaths nationwide.
A recent NPR (National Public Radio) piece gave a helpful breakdown on Utah’s new driving under the influence law. A man weighing 180lbs can drink an average of four drinks before reaching a BAC of .08. To reach a BAC of .05, that same man can only drink about half of the amount; for women, it is even less. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been urging lawmakers across the country to lower the legal drinking and driving limit from .08 to .05 since 2013 – yet only one state has followed the board’s recommendations.
Impaired Driving Data
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol-related car crashes account for an average of 25%-30% of the total number of automobile accidents every year. Every day, 29 people in the United States die in crashes with alcohol-impaired drivers. Here are some significant statistics compiled by the agency:
- In 2016, more than 1,230 children between the ages of 0 to 14-years-old were killed in crashes with alcohol-impaired drivers;
- Drugs other than alcohol (e.g. marijuana) are present in roughly 16% of total impaired driving accidents;
- More than 1 million drivers are arrested for drinking and driving in a one-year span;
- Young drivers and older drivers are more likely to be in impaired driving-related crashes than individuals in other age groups, and:
- In 2016, 25% of motorcyclists killed in collisions had BAC’s of .08 or higher
How Does Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, Work?
Blood alcohol concentration works to determine the amount of alcohol that a person has in his or her bloodstream. According to the CDC, a person with a BAC of .02 – which usually means they have consumed approximately two drinks – experiences some loss of judgment, feels more relaxed, and exhibits altered moods. At a BAC of .08 – the legal DUI limit for nearly every state across the country – a person’s muscle coordination (such as their vision, reaction time, hearing, and balance) becomes poor, they struggle to detect dangerous situations, and they have impaired self-control, reasoning, memory, and judgment.
Luckily, there are numerous prevention methods that can help limit alcohol-related crashes and collisions. Some of these tried and tested methods include:
- Actively enforcing the existing BAC laws, as well as enforcing zero tolerance for underage drinkers and drivers;
- Installing ignition interlocks (which require a person to test his or her BAC before being allowed to turn on the vehicle) on all offenders, including first timers;
- Raise alcohol prices through tax increases;
- Installing sobriety checkpoints on roadways;
- Requiring substance abuse assessments for DUI offenders
If you would like to learn more about prevention methods from the CDC, please visit the website here: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html.
While there are some people who are against Utah’s new BAC limit – most notably, perhaps, a spokesperson from the American Beverage Institute who claims that the new law will unfairly target moderate, “social” drinkers – the Utah state police say they will continue to arrest drivers based on their impairment level and less so on the new limit. In other words: if you show signs of driving under the influence of alcohol, state troopers or police officers will catch you.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Injured Car Crash Victims
If you or a loved one experienced injuries because of an alcohol-impaired driver and you have questions about how to file a legal claim or what damages you may be entitled to, please contact one of our firm’s Philadelphia car accident lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.