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UT’s alcohol driving limit lowered .05 percent — is CO next?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2017 | Drunk Driving Charges |

Two months ago, Utah became the first state in the nation to lower the legal blood-alcohol-content (BAC) level for driving from .08 percent to .05 percent — a controversial move to many.

While this law still hasn’t actually gone into effect in Utah, it has nevertheless raise the idea that other states, including neighboring Colorado, may follow suit.

Well, the fact is Colorado already has a .05 percent BAC limit in place for certain offenses. For instance, any Colorado driver with a BAC of more than 0.05 percent, but less than 0.08 percent, may be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI). And even though the penalties for DWAI are generally less serious than those for driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado, it is still a misdemeanor, punishable by possible time in jail, a fine and community service, among other possible penalties.

However, it is important to point out that the DUI BAC limit in Colorado is still .08 percent, although, depending on the circumstances, police can try to charge an individual with this offense even if they are under .08 percent.

In any case, it would indeed be a drastic step for Colorado lawmakers to lower the DUI BAC limit from .08 percent to .05 percent. But, it is probably true that those living in Utah probably thought the same thing a couple years ago.

Does a lower limit actually make the roads safer?

According to some Utah lawmakers, the goal of reducing the legal BAC limit is to reduce accidents and make the roads safer. However, there exists a real debate about whether this new law will actually get dangerous drunk drivers off the road or if it will simply lead to the arrest of countless drivers who are not actually impaired.

For example, the American Beverage Institute came out against the law saying it simply punishes responsible drinkers. Others argue that drivers with BACs of .05 percent are not the ones causing the serious accidents on the road, so this law will do very little to make the roads safer.

According to a recent KSL.com report, some Utah lawmakers are already looking into the possible unintended consequences of this new law, including the additional arrests and its possible impact on the state’s hospitality business.

One idea being considered by lawmakers is to create a two-tiered DUI system in which a .05 percent offense has lesser penalties than a .08 percent offense. Interestingly, this type of system is similar to what Colorado already has in place.