Utah Governor Gary Herbert recently signed a controversial piece of DUI legislation lowering the legal limit for driving under the influence in the State of Utah from 0.08% to 0.05%.
The new law - scheduled to go into effect on December 30, 2018 - would give Utah the strictest legal limit with regard to drunk driving and would make Utah the only state in the country with a legal limit less than 0.08%.
Governor Herbert signed the legislation on Thursday, March 23rd, despite widespread push back from residents and businesses throughout the state.
The State of Utah is considered one of the strictest states when it comes to alcohol policies as the state has long had some of the most restrictive laws for the sale and consumption of alcohol.
For example, patrons of restaurants in Utah must be “dining” at the restaurant in order to be served alcohol, and state law makes it illegal to order two drinks at a time.
Additionally, restaurants, bars and many other establishments that serve alcohol are required to use metered systems when making mixed drink that contain alcohol to ensure that no more than 1.5 ounces of a drink’s primary liquor is served in a single cocktail.
These are just a few of the many strict alcohol policies that are unique to the State of Utah.
Supporters of the newly signed legislation believe that a stricter legal limit will reduce drunk driving incidents in the State of Utah by discouraging individuals from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
However, opponents of this new law believe that a stricter legal limit will do absolutely nothing to catch drivers who get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol. Instead, those who oppose the bill argue that reducing the legal limit to .05% will simply result in punishing drivers who consume responsible amounts of alcohol and do not pose a threat to public safety.
It’s not just Utah residents who seem to have a problem with the new DUI law.
According to reports, the Utah Restaurant Association and the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association both met with Governor Herbert to discuss the potential negative impacts of the new legislation before it was signed.
These organizations met with Governor Herbert in an attempt to persuade him to veto the bill, arguing that the new law would not only hurt the restaurant and hospitality industries, but also Utah’s tourism industry as a whole.
Representatives of Utah’s ski industry also urged the Governor to veto the bill arguing that stricter alcohol policies would negatively affect Utah's image and hurt the ski industry.
Governor Herbert admitted that the bill was not perfect when he signed it, but argued that there was plenty of time to make improvements before the law goes into effect at the end of 2018.
While proponents have celebrated the signing of the DUI bill, many of Utah’s residents have been rallying outside of the Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City to protest the new DUI law.
Only time will tell what kind of impact the stricter DUI laws will have in relation to drunk driving in Utah.