[12/30/16] A state legislator is proposing that Utah lower the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for driving from .08 to .05.
If successful, Utah would become the first state in the nation to do so, following in the footsteps of dozens of European and Asian countries that already have a .05 drunken driving limit.
In rough terms, that’s about three drinks over the course of an hour for a 170-pound man and about two drinks over an hour for a woman weighing 130 pounds.
The sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Norman Thurston, R-Provo, said his intent is to save lives and start a culture shift around what constitutes “drunk” driving.
“We shouldn’t have the public message that you’re OK at .07,” Thurston said. “You’re not OK at .07. You’re not OK at .06. In reality, you’re not even OK at .02. But in terms of practicality and what the law should be, .05 seems to be that area where it makes sense to have the cutoff.”
Many studies show that even a small amount of alcohol can impair driving. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended lowering the legal limit to .05 blood alcohol content in 2013, to little effect.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study of 9,000 drivers published last year found that a .05 blood alcohol content level doubles a driver’s risk of crashing. Even at low alcohol levels, like .03 blood alcohol content, the risk of crashing increases by 20 percent.