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Posted on in Criminal Law

Consequences of Lowering the BAC LimitStates will be closely watching the effects of a new Utah law that will lower its blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.05 starting Dec. 30. Utah is the first state to set a BAC limit that is below 0.08, which has been the limit in all states for several years. There is a global precedent for the limit, with about 100 countries having a BAC limit of 0.05 or lower. Other states may follow Utah’s lead if the law corresponds with a decrease in alcohol-related traffic deaths. Critics argue that lowering the BAC limit will do more to increase the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol than it will save lives.

Inexact Science

It is already debatable as to whether the 0.08 BAC limit accurately measures whether a driver is intoxicated. The limit attempts to quantify how much alcohol it takes to impair someone’s driving ability. Different people have different tolerances to alcohol, and not everyone will be impaired with a BAC of 0.08, let alone 0.05. People with a higher alcohol tolerance may show no signs of driving impairment with a BAC of 0.08, which helps them avoid suspicion and arrest. However, police officers may stop and question these drivers for reasons other than showing signs of impairment, such as:

  • Minor traffic violations;
  • Vehicle equipment malfunctions;
  • Sobriety checkpoints; and
  • Traffic accidents caused by another party.

A 0.05 BAC limit makes it more likely that an unimpaired driver will be arrested for DUI.

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