On December 30, 2018, a new law went into effect in Utah making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. (In California, the limit is 0.08%.)
A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation raises doubts as to whether the change in law made Utah's streets and highways safer. See: Study finds drop in DUI deaths after Utah changed law — but there’s a catch
The number of people killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in Utah went from 56 in 2018 to 34 in 2019.
However, the number of people killed in alcohol-related accidents rose to 54 in 2020. This increase happened even though number of cars on the road decreased by 13% in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of drunk-driving deaths in Utah rose again to 77 in 2021.
Since 1997, The American Medical Association has recommended that all states lower the legal alcohol limit for all drivers to 0.05%. In 2013, the National Traffic Safety Board made a similar recommendation.
According to extensive research conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and others, most people are not too impaired to drive safely with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. But most people are too impaired at a level of 0.08% and almost everyone is too impaired at 0.10%.
In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the most extensive and rigorous study of the effects of drugs and alcohol on driving, Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study. The study found no increased risk of an accident in drivers with blood alcohol levels under 0.05%
Informed sources believe that it is only a matter of time before California's legislature lowers the legal limit to 0.05%. So far, the results from Utah suggest that changing the law will result in more DUI arrests but will not make us any safer.
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