Opinion

In our opinion: Utah's .05 alcohol limit is backed by sound data

Comments

Return To Article
  • Doom Turtle SLC/SLC, UT
    March 19, 2017 9:25 p.m.

    The legislators in favor of the 0.05 BAL like to bring up the fact that the NTSB is in support of this nationwide. The NTSB also supports a nationwide ban on ALL cell phone use by drivers, including hands free phones. Scientific data shows that talking on a hands free phone impairs a driver to the same degree as being intoxicated to the current 0.08 BAL.

    There are many more cell phone impaired drivers on the road than alcohol impaired drivers.
    The same European countries that have a 0.05 BAL law also have much stricter laws on cell phone use and enforce them. The penalties for both should be equal.

    Why does the legislator ignore the NTSB on cell phones but embrace their recommendation on alcohol. Is something other than science and safety behind this?

  • MTerry SANDY, UT
    March 19, 2017 2:34 p.m.

    Dr H--

    "...this would save at most 'only' eight lives per year..."

    If one of those eight lives saved was yours, or your wife's, or your child's, I'd bet it would be worth it to you. Just one life saved would be worth the passage of this bill.

  • dave The OC, CA
    March 19, 2017 10:22 a.m.

    This will cause drunk driving fatalities to increase. While the cops are wasting their time processing unimpaired drivers the real impaired drivers will be out driving. This is just another symbolism over substance law for which Utah is infamous.

  • SMIT SLC, UT
    March 19, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    This is a bill that fixes a problem that doesn't exist. We already have laws that criminalize impaired driving, even under .08 with DUI like penalties. At .05 there is no evidence of impairment barring other factors so how are they going to enforce the law other than random traffic offenses. Imagine getting pulled over for doing 30 in a 25 and losing your license and even your job. This bill will hurt more people than it will save.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 19, 2017 8:52 a.m.

    "If you are not comfortable with your pilot being just a little impaired, I don't want to share the road with you in the same condition."

    Ok no name...I don't want to share the road with you until you get your cell phone out of the car, get all of your little kids, out of the car, get your chatty neighbor sitting next to you, out of the car, get your radio, out of the car, because I'm not uncomfortable with you being a little impaired.

    See the point? being a little impaired is a catch phrase that describes a variety of conditions and circumstances.

    Probably not a lot of accidents caused by radios or kids, but they are distractions. The same is true for alcohol. Alcohol related fatalities pretty much don't occur until a person is wasted, BAC of 1.5 or higher.

    The obsession with .05 is purely cultural here. Alcohol is bad so.....well screaming kids in a car is bad too. Is there an appropriate noise and distraction level we should legislate here?

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    March 18, 2017 11:35 p.m.

    Why do people want to stop on the way home from work or skiing or whatever and get a drink? Because they want to relax, they want to get a little buzz, take the edge of the stress (note all this amounts to some degree of impairment for driving). How much is too much? Any impairment, drinking, texting etc. is too much.

    If you drink don't drive, Period. Drinking and driving puts others at risk. The National Transportation Safety Board recommends Point Zero Five, not for fun but because they have data that says .O5 is more safe.

  • yahoo Logan, UT
    March 18, 2017 9:42 p.m.

    At what point is the government going to quit making laws that takes away our right to choose. Seat belts, text and driving, and any other laws that take away our personal right to choose what we will and won't do. At what point do I as the government stop doing this.

  • SLars Provo, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:54 p.m.

    If signed it will be removed in 3 years maximum, meanwhile people across the nation will make fun of us (again).

    The only thing it will do is make criminals out of little women. (light weight women will exceed the .05 limit with just one beer. )

    I don't know many women who are impaired by one beer, and that's where the line should be drawn, to prevent impairment.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:26 p.m.

    The law is simple. It isn't about how impaired someone is at 0.05%. It is about making clear that drinkers meed to be responsible.

    Make transportation arrangements before you start drinking.

    If you drink, don't drive.

    If you must drive, don't drink.

    With good reason is the limit for commercial drivers and pilots 0.00%. Not a drop.

    If you are not comfortable with your pilot being just a little impaired, I don't want to share the road with you in the same condition.

    If yoyndont want to share the road with big rigs whose drivers are a little impaired, don't ask me to share the road with you when you are a little impaired.

    Drink all you want. None of my business or concern....unless you selfishly and irresponsibly decide to drive after drinking.

    Please sign the bill, Gov. Herbert.

    Next year, lets increase penalties fir DUI and distracted driving. We've had more than enough preventable deaths.

  • yahoo Logan, UT
    March 18, 2017 6:19 p.m.

    Changing the alcohol limit to .05 I feel is unacceptable to me. I don't agree with this law and I would veto it. It pushes people away. What about being tolerable to others. I DON'T DRINK because alcohol is nasty stuff and the smell is just as bad. The reason I know this is the lives it devastates. The smell is bad enough but it does kill sooner or later in many different ways.

  • ConradGurch Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 18, 2017 6:08 p.m.

    If you are going to go to .05 why not go to .01 and make Utah the first Dry State?

  • Kralon HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA
    March 18, 2017 4:27 p.m.

    While it may be difficult to argue with research results there are always people willing to take a stance unsupported by facts.

    Best wishes to Utah for getting this to pass!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 18, 2017 2:11 p.m.

    From the New York Times: "In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."

    So here's the problem: the automobile is an EXTREMELY dangerous form of transportation. Can you imagine the reaction if we had this many aviation deaths? The public would be up in arms, but because we have painted ourselves into an automotive corner we turn a blind eye to this carnage.

    This extremely dangerous form of transportation collides with human impairment of all types, and drinking alcohol is just one, but an important one.

    If we don't want to have people drink and drive we need MUCH, MUCH more public transit. So go ahead with .05, but please let's have a lot more transportation alternative.

    Note: the short sighted Republicans want to nix Jerry Brown's high speed rail project. We have to keep those highway deaths up!

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    March 18, 2017 2:09 p.m.

    You are cherry-picking data from the National Transportation Safety Board and ignoring more relevant data. The decrease in driving fatalities of .012 or about 1%, is mere speculation. Actual statistics from Denmark and South Africa show that after they dropped the level to .05 there was no drop in alcohol related driving fatalities. Here is data from the NTSB you ignored. Just 1% of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involved .05 to .08 levels and likely involved other impairments or distractions. The average was double .08 at .16 and 70% were above .15. The problem is excessive drinkers. They will not be deterred by .05. Founder of MADD, Candy Lightner, said .05 is a "waste of time" and "impractical" and the focus should be preventing serial drunk drivers from falling through the judicial cracks, disabling devices on vehicles, and committing resources to excessive drinking instead of wasting them on moderate drinkers. As for no level being safe, multiple studies and experiments (including at the U of U a friend of mine participated in) show that .08 drivers drive better than both hand-held and hands-free phone users. Very little is being done about that.

  • byufootballrocks Salt Lake City, UT
    March 18, 2017 1:43 p.m.

    I agree 100% with Thidder. This will likely result in untold violations of civil liberties and significant enforcement costs.

    Worse, it has potential for anyone taking a drink to become convicted of a crime - essentially if they happen to drive after 1 beer, according to some who have personally tested this hypothesis.

    I don't drink, and think that anyone who drives truly impaired is making a tragic and foolish mistake. Yet I greatly fear that this law is going to lead to countless, unnecessary misdemeanors on the records of very good people.

    Remember that such a conviction is considered a "prior" which means it can severely enhance penalties for other potential future accusations against a person. It is also difficult and expensive to get even an innocent or minor misdemeanor off a record.

    All of this not because a person was necessarily "impaired" in a clinical sense - according to some who have examined this - but because of this supposed 'limit' placed by those who are not apparent experts, who are not clinicians, and who likely are just lay people like most everyone else.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    March 18, 2017 1:19 p.m.

    The "poor me" vocal minority would really like to have all restrictions on drinking removed, but even Germany, a country noted for drinking, has adopted the .05 legal limit. There must be a reason. Oh yah, its called safety for others. This bill does NOT say a person can't drink until their eyeballs pop out. What it does say is that if you are going to drink, don't plan on driving immediately afterwards. Any REASONABLE person would say this is sound policy. It is true that the "poor me" people, who like to drink and drive, will have to make some adjustments to their lifestyles. I wonder how many of these "poor me" people have already had DUI tickets?

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    March 18, 2017 12:55 p.m.

    Utah law enforcement officials should have statistics on this. Where is the research showing the number of "drunk" drivers in Utah that would have been arrested if the limit was .05, but had to be let go because the limit was .08?

    How many more drivers do lawmakers hope to snare? thousands? hundreds? dozens?

    Is this just a message bill where the net effect is arresting 5 more people?

  • Dr H LAYTON, UT
    March 18, 2017 12:53 p.m.

    Since this would only save at most 8 lives per year in Utah, why not go after more pressing issues? This seems like a huge waste of taxpayer money. How about coming up with ways to limit distracted driving as drivers' eyes get more and more glued to phones? How about auditing the small fraction of doctors responsible for prescribing the vast majority of narcotics (for stuff like anxiety and back pain)? I take care of many patients whose doctors have put them on large daily doses of narcotics, and they are driving every day, with no roadside test to nail them. Seems there are much bigger fish for public safety advocates to be going after.

  • Dr H LAYTON, UT
    March 18, 2017 12:32 p.m.

    Let's see. Utah has less than 1% of the nation's population. So up to 800 lives saved per year nationwide would be less than 8 lives per year in Utah. This is an extremely ineffective move that will likely have negative effects on many more people than it might help. BTW I'm a lifelong Mormon who's never touched alcohol.

  • Stringer Bell Henderson, NV
    March 18, 2017 12:06 p.m.

    "There is some movement nationwide toward a .05 percent limit...."

    No there isn't.

  • Bountiful Atheist Bountiful, UT
    March 18, 2017 10:26 a.m.

    Lets not forget about the real problem..... Religion interfering with state laws.
    Our founding fathers would be ashamed of Utah.

    “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
    —John Adams

  • Thidder MAPLETON, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:57 a.m.

    Lowering the alcohol level is a great jobs bill for attorneys. There will be more and more plea bargains. Accident rates will not decrease. If we can't take a tough stand against drunks at .08, nothing will improve at .05. Increase in fines and bailouts equal revenue shift to law firms.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 18, 2017 8:55 a.m.

    Sound data....my nanny. It's all correlation, with no, actual proof. Comparisons to Europe and other urban dominated countries is ridiculous. Europe has a bar on every corner...people walk, and no ones going to throw you in jail for staggering home.

    "Some are convinced they can drive unimpaired at between .05 and .07 percent blood alcohol levels. "

    Here's the facts...no correlations just historical facts. 77% of fatal alcohol related crashes in Utah have a driver with a BAC of 1.5 or higher. The average BAC in a fatal crash in Utah is .20.

    Fact is this "public safety" policy is non sense. Alcohol related deaths in Utah are caused by people who are completely wasted..not "impaired"...whatever that means. They are caused by people with absolutely no regard for the law or any limits. You could have a limit of 0.0 or .4 and it's irrelevant to them.

    Given reality a sound public policy would be to beef up traffic enforcement to have an opportunity to stop the wasted driver, but hey you would also catch the speeder, the red light runner and they are your legislator or your neighbor, Not going to happen.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:43 a.m.

    Anyone driving and drinking should get a 3 week time in jail.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:42 a.m.

    In our opinion, however, no matter the sound data or anecdotal evidence or whatever, it doesn't matter. If public safety were really the issue we'd be going after guns or cigarettes. But we're in Utah, and the motivation and reasons to any restriction on alcohol, while often unspoken, are always something different.

  • PhillR Springville, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:08 a.m.

    I concur with this editorial opinion. But it seems that we need some public education. It is NOT a law against drinking in Utah, as so many are saying, but rather a law against DRIVING under the influence (DUI). Folks can drink when and where they please, but then they must not drive and thus endanger others. They can take a taxi cab, uber, Trax, Front Runner, and etc. They can get a hotel/motel room nearby. Just don't drive anywhere. Thank you Deseret News for your support of this new law.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:08 a.m.

    First, medical professionals will tell you that impairment starts at .08. That's why .08 is the national limit. All .05 does is makes criminals out of people that stop for a drink or 2 on the way home from work or after dinner. Utah foolishly compares itself to the European model of .05. Ever been to Western Europe? Public transportation is effective, efficient and inexpensive. But, the main factor for not drinking and driving is due to walkable neighborhood pubs and bars. Europeans come home from work and walk a few blocks to local pubs and restaurants. Can you imagine the outrage and backlash from Utah lawmakers and religious leaders if all of a sudden Sandy, Draper, Provo, Orem etc. were forced to accept bars, every few blocks, in their cities? We'd hear that the world would crash and burn and all the kids would be drunks. Why? That doesn't happen in Europe.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    March 18, 2017 8:01 a.m.

    The data is stretched. But the perception is this:

    The Mormon-dominated legislature passes resolutions declaring pornography a public health hazard, requiring questionable medical practices to discourage abortion, and lowering the BAC, all for the same reason: they find these MORALLY objectionable!

    These legislative actions defy the data and facts, and are obviously religiously motivated. As such, they represent religious discrimination against those not of the LDS Church!

    Like Trump’s attempts at hiding his unconstitutional "Muslim ban" behind legalese and bureaucratic BS, Mormon legislators are trying to enforce their religious beliefs while hiding it behind lies and distortion of facts.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 18, 2017 2:17 a.m.

    But consider what this is going to do. A family on a ski vacation or representatives of a software company are enjoying having dinner in Utah. For some women 1 drink in an hour will put her at .05 and 2 drinks in an hour will put some men at .05 - there are going to be a lot of judgement calls and a lot of angry visitors.

    So such visitors should not drive after dinner?

    In all seriousness, considering the irritation this is going to create with visitors and potential employers anyway, Utah should just go dry and be done with it. I agree alcohol is mostly bad news. So since we are going to get plenty of negatives with .05, let's just get complete relief from alcohol and go dry.