However, there is an effort underway in Utah to lower the legal blood-alcohol concentration for driving to .05 — a first in the nation. Currently, all 50 states have a .08 cap.
Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo plans to introduce a bill on the issue in the upcoming legislative session.
“Impairment starts with the first drink, and we want to establish this state as one where you just simply do not drink and drive,” said Thurston, noting he worked with officials from the Utah Highway Patrol while drafting the legislation. “This is all about safety.”
The American Beverage Institute portrayed it as “criminalizing perfectly responsible behavior.”
That’s the same argument coming from some detractors of the proposed legislation in Utah.
“Why not focus on reducing the speed limit, or limiting texting while driving?” said Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute, located outside Salt Lake City. “Those are real factors in causing traffic deaths.… This would just criminalize people not causing any problems.”
Art Brown, president of the Utah chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has stated that the group would not support Thurston’s proposal. Instead, he said, the group prefers to focus on interlock devices prohibiting people from driving drunk.
"MADD's position is we really emphasize interlocks and getting those on people and staying .08," Brown said.
According to the Utah Highway Safety Office, alcohol is not a major cause of fatal automobile crashes. Drunk driving was a contributing factor in about 13% of fatal crashes last year. By contrast, speed played a role in 37% of deaths, and no seat belt use was a factor in 31%.