Just In Time For New Year:Utah will begin enforcing the strictest drunk-driving standard in the country Sunday, and the lawmaker who first sponsored the tough measure said he was hopeful other states would soon adopt a similar threshold.
Norman Thurston, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the original bill that was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert in 2017, said “it’s been a long time coming” to see his proposal take effect. He said he had been contacted by several states about passing similar measures this year, but proposals in places like Washington and Hawaii never got to full floor votes.
“This is not a red state or blue state thing,” Thurston said. “This is just a solid policy that leads to better public safety.”
New Year’s Eve revelers in Utah could find themselves with more than a hangover as 2019 dawns. If they drink and drive, they could end up on the wrong side of the nation’s newest and lowest DUI threshold.
The 0.05 percent limit goes into effect Sunday, despite protests that it will punish responsible drinkers and hurt the state’s tourism industry by adding to the reputation that the predominantly Mormon state is unfriendly to those who drink alcohol. The state’s old limit was 0.08 percent, the threshold in most states.
For Utah lawmakers, the change is a safety measure aimed at encouraging people not to drive at all if they’ve been drinking.
The change was easily approved in 2017 by the Legislature, which is mostly Mormon and mostly Republican, and signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The religion teaches its members to abstain from drinking alcohol.
Law enforcement all over the state will be stepping up patrols to crack down on DUIs over the holiday weekend.
Unified Police will have a checkpoint set up in the Salt Lake Valley starting at 9 p.m. on Friday.
On Sunday at midnight, Utah’s DUI laws will become the strictest in the nation. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit will drop from 0.08 to 0.05 in our state.
With smart ride options available, like public transportation and ridesharing, there is no excuse for anyone to drive impaired.