New DUI Law Takes Effect This Weekend

Dec 26, 2018, 6:48 PM | Updated: 8:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After about a year and a half to prepare, a controversial new DUI law goes into effect on December 30. Utah will become the first state in the country to lower the legal blood alcohol content level for a drunk driving offense from .08 to .05.

The new law takes effect at midnight Sunday. Republican State Representative Norm Thurston of Provo sponsored the new law in 2017.

He said the ultimate goal was to save lives.

“In the state of Utah we take (impaired driving) seriously, and if you’re going to drink here, don’t drive here,” said Thurston. “If there are fewer people driving after they drink, there will be fewer crashes, fewer injuries and fewer deaths.”

Thurston said he hoped people don’t drive at all if they’ve had anything to drink.

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

“We really don’t want people making the call for themselves. We don’t want them saying, ‘Well, I’ve had some to drink and I know I’m a little bit impaired, but I don’t know if I’m too impaired to drive or not,’” said Thurston. “(The) reality is, if you’ve been drinking, you are impaired at least a little bit, and you shouldn’t be driving.”

Statistics show the number of DUI arrests in Utah has actually gone down over the past 10 years. However, safety officials said it’s still a problem in the Beehive State. In 2017, there were nearly 11,000 DUI arrests and 36 deaths related to impaired driving.

As far as having more troopers on the roads targeting all drivers, the Utah Highway Patrol said you won’t see that.

“It’s not going to be anything different than what we’ve done with the .08 law,” said UHP Sgt. Nick Street. “We don’t change our tactics or anything, trying to guesstimate what somebody’s blood alcohol content would be.”

Instead, they’ll do what they’ve always done and look for impaired drivers, whether they have .05 blood alcohol levels or higher, and get them off the streets.

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New DUI Law Takes Effect This Weekend