Just in time for New Year's, one state is going a step further than the rest of the country in cracking down on drunk driving. As of December 30, Utah officially lowered its legal blood alcohol limit for DUI from .08 to .05, the first state in the country to do so. The law was first passed and signed in 2017, but now Utah drivers will experience the nation's toughest DUI law.
KTRH medical expert Dr. Joe Galati has mixed feelings about the change. On one hand, he does think it will improve public safety. "It's going to, I believe, reduce the number of injuries, deaths and personal problems related to alcohol," says Galati. However, he also acknowledges it could create more legal issues for some people. "Depending on their size, getting to .05 may be something that's going to happen for a lot more people than we anticipate." Indeed, a man weighing 180 pounds needs only two drinks to reach a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .05, and a woman can reach that level in less than two drinks.
So far, there are no known plans or proposals to lower the BAC limit to .05 in Texas, but Texas personal injury attorney Scott Snellings wouldn't be surprised to see state lawmakers consider it. "I think they will always look at any kind of legislation that would improve safety for our citizens," says Snellings. "Hopefully it would increase the use of designated drivers, it would increase the use of taxis and ride-share services, and I don't think businesses would see much of an effect at all."
While Utah is the only state to lower the limit so far, other states like Texas are certainly facing pressure to do so. The National Traffic Safety Board has recommended a .05 limit for years.