Utah now has the strictest DUI laws in America following Governor Gary Herbert’s decision on Thursday to sign a new bill which lowers the legal blood alcohol level from .08 to .05 for those operating a motor vehicle or carrying a deadly weapon.
The law’s consider caused controversy and was opposed by many businesses and groups in the hospitality industry who argued the new measures will negatively impact tourism. Before Gov. Herbert enacted the law, those in opposition purchased full page newspaper space, running ads that read, “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation.”
Many were also concerned that unimpaired drivers would be slapped with a DUI charge. To reach a blood alcohol level of .05, a 120 pound woman may only need to have one drink. For a 150 pound man, the level may be reached after only two drinks.
Utah already had strict laws regulating the sale of alcohol and its consumption. Over 50 percent of the state’s population is Mormon, a Christian denomination that forbids its followers from drinking alcoholic and even some caffeinated beverages.
Both Herbert and the legislative representative who proposed the bill are Mormon. However, Herbert said religion did not have anything to do with the new law.
“People are going to try to say this is a religious issue. And that is just absolutely false. This is a public safety issue,” said Herbert.
What failed to receive a large amount of attention included in the law was the impact the legislation will have on gun owners. Anyone caught with a blood alcohol level over .05 and in possession of a gun will be arrested.
“Apparently the legislature never saw the connection between this bill and gun rights, and as such, this issue was never debated,” the Utah Shooting Sports Council said in a letter.
The law goes into effect Dec. 30, 2018, just in time for New Year’s Eve celebrators to get busted.
[AP] [NPR] [Photo courtesy keyword-suggestions.com]