Utah Will Soon Be Hostile to Casual Drinkers

A one-bottle drink with mates before driving home may not be a good idea in Utah. That is, if the governor doesn’t veto the bill seeking to lower Utah’s blood alcohol content legal limit. Utah’s current BAC stands at 0.08%. If lowered to 0.05, Utah’s BAC for DUI cases will become the strictest in the nation and will fall at par with most European countries, some of which do not tolerate even a sip of red wine before driving.

Many Utah residents oppose the new bill as it will throw casual drinkers under the bus. Depending on the driver’s weight, one bottle of beer can mean the difference between getting home after a party or getting thrown in jail for DUI with all your faculties intact. Senator Jim Debakis of Salt Lake City spoke at a rally to ask Governor Gary Herbert to veto the new bill which will greatly affect Utah’s tourism industry. Such a drastic step will also affect the residents’ respect for the law as something that was once completely okay becomes illegal the next day. Many also think that House Bill 155 fails to account for the lifestyles of a large chunk of Utah’s citizens which is about 40% as opposed to the religious majority of 60% represented by the bill’s sponsors.

Fortunately, should the bill get approved by Governor Herbert, the new law won’t come into effect until the end of 2018, which is quite long. Citizens and lawmakers will have until that time to research, experiment and re-evaluate the bill and possibly repeal it. The legislature itself may have been hesitant in passing the bill in the first place perhaps due to some pressure that such a law needs to be passed.
The bill will not just affect residents, but visitors and tourists as well. Utah already has enough problems with its hospitality industry due to the state’s unique liquor laws. The bill also fails to take into account that the BAC that 155 is modeled after, is one of two levels. 0.03 to 0.05 are misdemeanors while higher than that are counted as aggravated. If the new law goes unchallenged by the end of 2018, anyone who plans to take happy hour downtown or take a sip at the book reading club should take the bus back home.

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