A few drops of alcohol may be the difference between drunk and sober, when it comes to drinking and driving, and Utahns who imbibe seem to be saying they’ll have to drink less, to stay legal.
It’s a busy Saturday night at the Green Pig Bar in downtown Salt Lake City. The people who run this place say they’re worried about next Saturday night, when Utah’s new law will be in effect, lowering the blood alcohol limit, from .08 to .05.
“It hurts us. It definitely hurts us,” says 25-year bartender Tiffany Thatcher.
She and her bar’s owners are already predicting the lower blood alcohol limit will prompt people to pass on that last drink. Customer Samantha Davis seems to confirm that belief.
“I’d probably have one less glass of wine or one less drink, knowing that one of us is going to drive home,” Davis says.
If this establishment is any indicator the new law is already making an impact, before it goes into effect. the people who are serving are wondering how much to serve, and the people who are drinking are wondering how much to drink. There are no easy answers.
“Well, you really can’t tell,” says Thatcher. “A big, heavy person can have two beers and he’ll metabolize the alcohol, and he’ll be fine. But a smaller person can’t drink a lot, because of their weight.”
Bar customer Ryan Lacy describes himself as a lean, athletic six feet tall, weighing about 165 pounds.
“I would assume that it takes less for me to get drunk than someone who may be a little bit heavier,” he says.
After four twelve four-ounce bottles of beer, Ryan says he’s buzzed. But is he too drunk to drive?
“I think it’s hard for people to draw the line of, ‘Oh, I’ve had a few beers. I feel a little bit buzzed, but I’m clearly fine to drive,’ in their opinion. But is the line .08? I think that’s what a lot of people don’t necessarily know.”
This bar patron’s strategy for dealing with Utah’s new DUI law is to eliminate any margin for error.
“Why not just take Uber,” he says, “rather than take the risk on drunk driving? If you can save one life, then it’s worth it.”