As we mentioned in a May entry, Utah has amended its drunk-driving statutes(s) to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) necessary to take a simple instance of driving with alcohol in your system and convert it into Driving Under the Influence (this is referred to as ‘Driving While Intoxicated’ in New York). The new standard in Utah is a BAC of .05 of 1 percent. This makes Utah’s anti-drunk-driving scheme the strictest in the US, as every other state uses a standard based on a blood alcohol content of .08.
We’re taking a follow-up look at the statute, because it may represent the future standard for the rest of the US. To cite our 2013 entry on the subject yet again, much of the rest of the world has adopted a .05 (or stricter) standard, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advocating a .05 limit for some time.
Even New York, under Governor Andrew Cuomo, has apparently considered reducing the blood alcohol content necessary to create a per se criminal offense at .05, just as Utah has. This was according to an article in Glens Falls’ Post Star, entitled “How Low Should It Go? The .05 BAC Debate.” A change along those lines would seem to be consistent with the anti-impaired driving push reflected in 2012’s ‘3-strikes’ rule. That rule has been discussed several times in this blog, of course; promulgated by the Department of Motor Vehicles without legislative input, the rule delays, or in some cases prohibits, re-licensing for drivers with a history of offenses involving alcohol or drugs. Its purpose is to keep impaired drivers off the road, and the purpose of a .05 standard is the same. The Post Star’s article was published in 2013, though, when the National Transportation Safety Board first suggested the .05 standard. New York is still at .08, of course.