Before the beginning of this year the legal blood alcohol content a person could have while driving was .08. That was the law for every state in the union. Utah however has now reduced that limit to .05, becoming the lowest legal BAC state in the country. Blood alcohol content, or BAC, is a gauge of the percentage of alcohol in a person's blood stream.
The legislature in Utah, and across the nation have used BAC as an indicator of an individuals level of impairment. While everyone reacts differently to alcohol consumption, lawmakers have decided to just make a bright line rule in this arena. So instead of worrying about what impairment actually means for someone. The legislature has instead simply picked a BAC level and said anyone above that number is illegal.
What Does the New Law Mean for You
DUI Checkpoints are a common occurrence on big DUI nights like New Years Eve.
While there has been a lot of talk in Utah about what this new law might do to tourism in Utah, let's look at what it means for the individual.
Previous to the law change there was already a problem with using a bright line BAC rule. That problem was the fact that no one actually knows what their BAC is at any given time. So the law basically imposed a requirement on individuals that they couldn't really be sure they were following or not. There are some portable breathalyzer tests that people can use but they are expensive, not practical, and do not provide sufficiently reliable results.
Now however that uncertainty has been minimized. With such a low BAC most individuals are going to be close to .05 or above if they drink almost any normal amount of alcohol. This of course depends on the age, weight, and metabolism of the individual as well as if they have eaten recently or not. So now the easiest choice for the individual is to make sure they're getting a ride if they plan on drinking at all. Even waiting to sober up can be a little bit of a scary decision because for some people they could feel completely sober and still be at .05 BAC.
The New Law and The Criminal Process
As far as fighting .05 DUIs there really isn't much that has changed for defense attorneys. Instead of focusing on .08 and how close the BAC was to that, we now focus on .05. The other things that we normally fight are all still the same. Now that may change over time depending on the case law that may or may not come out of this new lay change. We'll have to wait and see. For you however, the safest thing to do, is make sure you plan your ride before hand. If this advice comes to late, then give me a call and we'll talk more about your options.