Nationwide, the commonly accepted blood-alcohol threshold as measured through a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test is .08% Over that, and people will likely find themselves facing DUI charges. For those with a commercial driver’s license, that threshold dips by half, to .04%. Depending on the jurisdiction, the threshold for those under 21 can be as low as 0%, meaning that any amount of alcohol can see a DUI charge. The state of Utah, however, recently became the first state to lower the legal BAC level to .05%, as NBC Los Angeles reports.
Lowering the state’s blood alcohol limit from .08%, the legal threshold in most states, to .05%, went into effect on the Sunday prior to New Year’s.
The law was approved by a mostly Republican and Mormon legislature in 2017. It was then signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert. These changes mean that depending on food intake and other factors, a 150lb man could be legally drunk after having two beers within an hour, and a woman weighing 120lbs can be drunk after just one drink.
Nearly 100 countries around the world have a similar limit, and fears of detractors are thought to be overblown. It is estimated that should a similar nationwide limit be accepted and signed into law, some 1,500 lives could be saved every year.
Residents of Utah have mixed feelings. One resident informed reporters that she was limiting her drinking establishments to places she could walk to from her home. Another said that he doesn’t believe it was going to have much impact.
50-year-old recent Ohio transplant to Utah Rob Wheatly said, “I don’t know if it’s going to change anyone’s behavior. If they’re going to have a beer, they’re going to have a beer.”