HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — On December 30, 2018, Utah became the first state to lower its blood-alcohol concentration limit from 0.08 to 0.05% for drunk driving.
It takes about three alcoholic drinks consumed in an hour by a 160-pound man to reach 0.05%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It would take about four alcoholic drinks consumed by the same 160-pound man, or two drinks for a 120-pound woman, to reach 0.08%.
At either level, drivers are likely to experience impaired speed control and concentration, as well as memory loss and a reduced ability to process what they see.
This is not the first time Utah pioneered the move to lower the blood-alcohol limit. In 1983, Utah was the first state to lower the limit from 0.10 to 0.08%. Taking nearly two decades, all other states eventually followed suit. During that time, alcohol-impaired crash fatalities have from over 41% of all traffic fatalities to less than 29%, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Even with that drop, about 29 people nation-wide still die every day in alcohol-impaired crashes, totaling nearly 11,000 deaths last year. Since 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board has been urging states to lower the limits to 0.05%, arguing almost 1,800 lives per year would be saved.
Although Utah was the first state to enact a 0.05% limit and is still the lowest in the nation, the majority of countries worldwide already have limits of 0.05% or lower with penalties much more severe.
Mexico, Singapore, and parts of the United Kingdom are among the minority that still have the more lenient 0.08% limit. Countries with a 0.03% limit include Serbia, Japan, India, Uruguay, and Chile. Those with a 0.02% limit include Brazil, China, Norway, Poland, Estonia, and Sweden. Many countries such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates each have a limit of 0.00%, which means you can be cited for DUI with any amount of alcohol in your system.
At Hill Air Force Base, Utah’s 0.05% limit applies. Driving on base with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05% or more in your system will likely result in a very costly citation for DUI.
No matter where in the world you may be, the best advice you can heed when contemplating a drink and a drive, is: “If you drive, DON’T DRINK! If you drink, DON’T DRIVE!”