We, the undersigned, urge the Utah legislature to repeal H.B. 155—a law signed by Governor Herbert in March that lowered the blood-alcohol arrest level for driving from .08 to .05.
Lowering the BAC arrest level to .05 will do little to make Utah roads safer because only about 1 percent of traffic fatalities involve drivers with BACs between .05 and .08 BAC. Drivers at these low BAC levels are not significantly impaired. In fact, talking on a hands-free cell phone is more impairing than driving at the current BAC arrest level of .08. You are more impaired driving over the age of 65 than at .05.
That is why Mothers Against Drunk Driving did not support this bill. In fact, MADD’s founder called the law “impractical” and “a waste of time.” And the majority of Utahan’s oppose the law.
The real issue is the relatively small population of hardcore drunk drivers who routinely drive at high BAC levels. Over 77% of drunk driving fatalities in Utah occur at BAC levels over .15%. These are the dangerous drivers that need to be targeted in order to save lives.
The fact that much of Europe has a .05 limit is not an argument for bringing the law to the United States. Most countries in Europe allow teenagers to drink. And in many European countries you can buy alcohol at McDonalds. Clearly, Europe and the U.S. should not be compared on this issue.
To further compound the ineffectiveness of such a law, moderate and responsible drinkers are the ones who will be punished. A 120 pound woman will be subjected to jail time, thousands of dollars in fines and court costs, the installation of an ignition interlock, and the social stigma of being labeled a drunk driver after having little more than a single drink.
The safety of Utahns and all Americans on the roads should be a top priority. And if this law actually advanced this objective, we would be fully behind it. But facts are facts. Lowering the legal limit will distract Utah law enforcement officials from pursuing those who actually kill people on the road, while making criminals out of our friends and neighbors.
We ask that you support the repeal of H.B.155.