Across the United States, the "legal limit" of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08. A driver's BAC and where it sits in relation to the legal limit are crucial elements in any DUI case, with prosecutors sometimes declining to move forward in cases in which an individual blew lower than the legal limit, and states with "aggravated" DUI set statutory limits in relation to how far over the legal limit a driver's BAC is at the time of arrest. DUI convictions can be devastating and it is in the best interest of any individual charged to fight it, given the impact a conviction could have on a person's life and career.
Lowering the legal limit to .05, a new measure which the Utah legislature currently is deliberating has been on the National Transportation Safety Board's “most-wanted” list for almost 4 years. If Utah moves forward in putting this new, lower limit on the books, it could potentially usher in a whole new era of DUI prosecution. This stringent measure would cast a “wider net” for drivers, as one Utah defense lawyer put it.
Many more individuals could find themselves saddled with DUI charges, for driving with a BAC previously considered legal in a “point oh eight” era. Driving under the influence can be very dangerous, so naturally, the states have a substantial interest in eradicating it - however, even MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) doesn't believe lowering the limit would do much good. While it would deter, in theory, people who have had even one drink from driving, many groups point to the fact that people with a BAC as low as .05 are not the proximate or primary cause of alcohol-related accidents. Fatal or otherwise, alcohol-related accidents are more likely caused by individuals with much higher blood alcohol levels, so measures like DUI checkpoints and zealous DUI patrols would have a greater impact on roadside safety than a lower limit, which would needlessly criminalize the actions of only marginally intoxicated people.
The state of Washington is also considering lowering the legal limit for BAC. The Washington State Legislature is pursuing HB 1874, which would also seek to lower the legal limit in the state to .05. Legislators in favor of the bill are hopeful that it will demonstrate that the state is "serious" in its desire to keep impaired drivers off the road, pointing that a 120-pound woman could reach the limit with little more than one drink, and a 150-pound man could reach it after two.
However, like the proposed Utah legislation, the bill faces strong opposition. Representative Dave Hayes (R-10th District) stated that lowering BAC is not necessary, based on testimony given to the Legislature and his own personal experience processing DUIs. Hayes is a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, contact DeKalb County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today.