Utah DUI Laws

A Trend to Watch

One alcoholic drink (about 12 ounces) is all it takes for our brains to start distorting sensory input. And, depending on a person’s weight, Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) can reach the 0.05 to 0.08 range after two drinks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who have a BAC of 0.02 to 0.05 will struggle with vision, steering and response times — all critical for driving defensively.  

For years, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended states lower BAC laws to 0.05 instead of the current 0.08 limit. On December 30, 2018 — the day before New Year’s Eve — Utah became the first state to lower its BAC law to 0.05. While it’s too early to tell if the law is improving traffic safety, the Utah Highway Patrol reports alcohol-related crashes in the first quarter of 2019 were down significantly from the first quarter of 2018.

First Quarter 2018

  • Alcohol-related crashes- 416 
  • Fatalities- 10

First Quarter 2019

  • Alcohol-related crashes- 236 
  • Fatalities- 3

Will History Repeat Itself

In 1983, Utah and Oregon became the first states to enact a 0.08 BAC law. It would take more than two decades for a uniform, national limit to be established. By 2005, all 50 states and the District of Columbia set a 0.08 BAC law. Then, in 2017, Utah took the toughest stance in the nation — enacting a 0.05 BAC law. Oregon, once again, may be in lockstep with the Beehive State. Lawmakers have spent months debating the topic, and although a bill to lower the BAC limit stalled in spring, some lawmakers hope the conversation keeps moving forward.

Tough Talk

A majority of Americans (63%) support a 0.05 BAC law, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. However, the American Beverage Institute, which lobbies alcohol-related issues, strongly opposes the NTSB’s longtime recommendation to lower the BAC law to 0.05. The group believes impairment is relative, and argues a driver, who is talking on a cellphone, hands-free, is more impaired than someone with a 0.05 BAC. The NTSB sees a 0.05 BAC law as a deterrent, while the American Beverage Institute warns about turning a considered responsible behavior into a criminal act.

If you are caught driving at or above the legal limit, you will need the help of an experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorney that is prepared to fight for your rights. A DUI arrest in Utah can result in serious consequences like potential jail time, fines and probation. Our attorneys can help you through this challenging process.