Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
AP file photo Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem
Utah senator considers cutting state’s drunk driving threshold
Legislature » A key senator says Utah will seriously study feds’ advice to lower blood-alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05.
First Published May 15 2013 05:17 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:31 pm

The Utah senator who takes the lead in setting state liquor policy on Wednesday said lawmakers will closely consider the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation that states reduce their drunk-driving thresholds.

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said they will look for guidance from European nations that have seen fatalities decline after prohibiting driving with a blood-alcohol concentration above 0.05 — more than a third lower than the U.S. standard of 0.08.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"I’m still in the investigation state," he said during a legislative hearing at the Capitol. "But this is obviously something we should be looking at" with an eye toward possible legislation to lower Utah’s limit

On Tuesday, the NTSB said people with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking. People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely.

The standard in most of the industrialized world is 0.05 percent. All 50 states and the District of Columbia switched to 0.08 percent after President Bill Clinton signed a law in 2000 that withheld highway construction money from states that did not agree to that standard.

The rate of deaths from crashes where the driver is found to be legally drunk is about 30 percent of all fatalities today, the NTSB said, down from about 50 percent when President Ronald Reagan first raised the issue as a national concern in 1982.

Lowering Utah’s allowable blood-alcohol level most likely would face opposition from distillers, brewers, bars and restaurants, which could lose business.

Melva Seine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, said states should be cautious about criminalizing drinking.

"We need to research this carefully," she said. "I’m not sure that lowering the threshold is the answer to the problem of drunk driving."

If Utah lawmakers draft a bill to lower Utah’s limit, it may not have the support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

story continues below
story continues below

Art Brown, director of MADD’s Utah chapter, said it’s important that people don’t drink when they drive "period."

"You get impaired after the first drink," he said. "People think they can drink until they are at 0.08, but you can get arrested if you are impaired, no matter what the blood-alcohol [level] is."

New York Times News Service contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.