SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Just in time for New Year’s Eve, Utah will have the strictest DUI law in the country.
The legal blood alcohol content limit will drop from .08 to .05.
Rep. Norm Thurston co-sponsored the bill and he says police officers won’t need to do anything differently; they will arrest based on impairment.
“If a driver is too impaired to drive, they’ll be arrested,” said Thurston.
“The .05 kicks in, both in terms of public messaging and in terms of prosecution,” he added.
“If they suspect there’s a problem, then they run them through the standardized field sobriety tests. And, at that point, if they think there’s enough evidence that the person is impaired, they’ll arrest them,” said Thurston.
And, only at that point would we collect evidence on blood alcohol. So, the person today — and in the future — will always be arrested before we collect the evidence,” added Thurston.
Not everybody approves of the new law.
“I think the .05 is excessive,” said Bridget Gordon, owner of Green Pig Pub.
“I don’t think it’s good for our image — Utah, in general,” said Gordon.
Former prosecutor and current defense attorney Kent Morgan says it will be interesting to see what happens when judges get cases after an arrest.
“Let’s say somebody is .08 and somebody is .05, and what are the prosecutors and what are the courts going to do with that blood alcohol level?” said Morgan.
“Will they treat them more leniently? And that, I think, is something everybody has to look at.”