Utah lawmakers approved a bill Friday to lower Utah’s legal blood alcohol content level to curb drunk driving.
House Bill 155 would bring the limit from .08 to .05-about the equivalent of a glass of wine for a woman or two glasses of wine for a man. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Norm Thurston says it sends a clear message; don’t drink and drive-not even a little.
Thurston had Bella Dinh-Zar, vice president of the National Transportation Safety Board present his case before the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee. Dinh-Zar said the independent federal agency found that a .05 BAC prevents crashes, death and injuries.
“Not by increasing DUI arrests, but by preventing people from driving after they’ve been drinking,” Dinh-Zar said.
Bountiful defense attorney Sean Druyon said he was concerned that lowering the legal limit would lead to an increase in DUI’s.
“For most first-time offenders, it’s a wakeup call,” he said. “They don’t know they’re even impaired to the point that they can’t operate they’re vehicle. They see the BAC. It’s slightly over .08. It gives them an opportunity, if they get an impaired driving, to save their job, save their driver’s license.”
Republican Representative Paul Ray supports the bill. He told Druyon losing a license is much less of a burden than death.
“I’d much rather some SOB who’s drinking lose his job than somebody have to lose a father, a grandfather or a child,” Ray said. “Also you seem to put tourism over life. To me life is more important than tourism money.”
HB 155 passed the committee 9 to 2. It now goes to the full House.