How many drinks will it take for someone to reach Utah’s new 0.05 blood-alcohol content limit? It depends on the person — and the drink of choice — according to an experiment conducted by FOX 13 and The Salt Lake Tribune.
When it goes into effect on Dec. 30, Utah will have the nation’s toughest DUI law, lowering the blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05. To see what that could mean for Utahns, FOX 13 and Tribune reporters tried different combinations of alcohol and food under the supervision of the Unified Police Department’s DUI squad.
The five journalists all started with a 0.00 BAC and passed a field sobriety test. Over the course of three hours, the experiments included:
- Two glasses of white wine and a Greek salad for Kathy Stephenson, The Tribune’s food and alcohol reporter,
- Four gin cocktails for Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke,
- Two high-point golden ales and a cheeseburger with fries for FOX 13 producer Darcy Stapleford,
- Eight 3.2 beers and a cheeseburger with fries for Mike Rank, a FOX 13 photojournalist and
- One serving of cough syrup and a bowl of chicken noodle soup for FOX 13 reporter Ben Winslow.
Stapleford and Stephenson were the only ones to reach a 0.05 or higher. Even still, both passed their field sobriety tests.
Unified Police Officer Mikel Archibeque said, however, that police need only find signs of impairment to pull someone over.
“We’re looking to get impaired drivers off the road,” Archibeque said. “So whether it’s a 0.05, 0.08, 0.16, whatever number, if we can show they’re impaired, we need to get those impaired drivers off the road.”
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.