Clearly Someone Likes the New Utah Drunk Driving Law

new-utah-drunk-driving-bacLawmakers in Utah knew they faced an uphill battle when they changed the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from the US standard of .08 to .05. They would acknowledge that there have been loud detractors to the new Utah drunk driving law, but the overwhelming response to the new BAC has been positive.

Now they have even more proof that it was a good step in the right direction. Thanks to the new Utah drunk driving law, the state will receive the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award. The award will recognize everyone involved in changing the BAC including the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Department of Public Safety, the Utah Legislature, and the Governor.

Representatives have to travel all the way to England to receive the award, and when they are in Europe they’ll realize that having a .05 legal BAC isn’t that unusual after all. Most European countries, with the exception of England, have their legal BAC set at .05. Scotland has even had a .05 BAC since 2014.

This award is coming at a time when opponents to Utah’s drunk driving law are becoming more vocal. The deadline for the change is December 30th, 2018, and some groups have gone as far as taking out ads in newspapers in an attempt to have the ad repealed.

The problem? Their argument that the .05 BAC unfairly targets moderate drinkers instead of dangerous drunk drivers doesn’t stand up. It’s a fact that any amount of alcohol can affect your driving skills, so even if you’ve only had one or two drinks, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car. The .05 blood limit enforces that fact, and the ultimate benefit of the BAC change will be in how the public perceives drinking and driving.

If someone knows a single drink could mean their BAC is close to or at .05, they might think twice about putting the keys in the ignition. That change in perception could save lives, and saving lives is the goal of any state drunk driving law.

Time will show: Utah is ahead of the curve with their new BAC. Hopefully the rest of the US will follow.

 

Will the .05 Utah Drunk Driving Law Keep People Off The Slopes?

Utah drunk drivingIn Utah, winter is king. Not only does the state enjoy a long ski season with record snowfall, Olympics organizers are also contemplating another Utah bid for the Winter Games. If the Olympics do come again to Utah there will tourists by the thousands, but will the new Utah drunk driving laws throw a wrench into the games?

Earlier this year Utah became the first state to change its legal blood alcohol limit from .08, the standard across the United States, to .05. Although the new law isn’t even set to take effect for another year, the backlash started almost immediately.

A few representatives from the tourism and hospitality industry have voiced concern that the blood alcohol limit of .05 is too harsh and it could keep visitors away from Utah. The head of Ski Utah, a marketing group that manages the ski and snowboard industry in the state, thinks the perception of Utah will change. He feels Utah ski resorts are for fun, and this BAC limit could affect the chances of hosting the Olympic games.

Another Utah group has been vocal about the new blood alcohol limit and changes to Utah drunk driving laws, and they keep returning to Utah’s Capitol Hill in the hopes they’ll force lawmakers to make a change. The American Beverage Institute visited the House Minority Caucus recently to request a repeal. Because of past ads the group ran suggesting a senior lawmaker was more dangerous behind the wheel than someone with a .05 BAC, the Caucus didn’t respond to their appeal.

For his part, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said he would be supportive of a tiered penalty system that would penalizes someone with .05 BAC differently than if they had .08.

Despite the opposition, there’s always the possibility that the current .05 blood limit is going to stay in Utah. Even if it actually decreased tourism for the state, the flip side is that it would save lives, and that’s the bottom line.

Utah DUI Laws Force A Convicted Drunk Driver To Serve His Time

Utah DUI Laws The state of Utah has shown that it’s serious about stopping drunk drivers, and it’s taken some huge steps over the past year to prove it. Out of those steps, the biggest happened when Utah DUI laws changed to allow for a new legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It moved to .05 instead of the standard .08.

The Utah Supreme Court has now taken another step by passing a ruling anyone charged with a Utah DUI causing injury or death should pay attention to. Thomas Ainsworth, a 61-year-old man, was driving on Christmas Eve when he crashed into a family’s vehicle. He killed an 18-month-old child and injured his brother and parents.

He said he was reaching for a cellphone at the time of the crash, but after he was arrested he tested positive for both THC and methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle and negligently causing injury or death, and he was sentenced to three consecutive prison terms, with one giving him 15 years in prison.

But that’s not the end of this Utah DUI story. He appealed that sentence and it was sent to the Utah Court of Appeals. He felt as though he was given a harsher sentence than someone convicted of a lesser offense, and he also felt as though the consecutive sentences were too much for the crime.

He used the Utah Automobile Homicide Statute and the DUI With Serious Injury Statute to argue that, if someone else had caused a crash like he did, they would have only been charged with a third-degree felony and he was charged with a second-degree felony. The Court of Appeals agreed with him.

The case went to the Utah Supreme Court, and they disagreed with Ainsworth. Long story short, his original prison sentence was reinstated. Now, after arguing for a shorter sentence and no consecutive prison terms, Ainsworth is going to serve his original sentence of up to 45 years in prison.

Because this case involved a lot of legal arguments, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that it happened because someone drove under the influence and killed a toddler. At the end of the day, justice for this family is all that matters, and it’s good to see Utah DUI laws hold this person accountable.

Are Utah Drunk Driving Laws Going To Stick To .05?

Utah drunk driving laws Utah drunk driving laws have seen a big change over the past year. The state has adopted a new blood alcohol limit of .05 instead of the standard US limit of .08.

Although it won’t take effect for another year, the majority of the people in the state have come out in support of the new limit. Others though, haven’t been as happy about it.

The lobbying group for the alcohol industry, the American Beverage Institute, is one of the main detractors of the new blood alcohol limit. They’ve been running ads comparing drivers over the age of 65 with impaired drivers at the .05 level. They’ve also ran ads designed to increase panic in Utah’s hospitality industry.

Some lawmakers in Utah agree with them, and they’re calling for a compromise. They’d like to see reduced penalties for anyone who is arrested between the .05 and the .08 level, and they feel that penalties for first offenders at that level should be similar to a speeding ticket.

Right now a first offender in Utah will receive a driver’s license suspension of 120 days as well as the possibility of fines and an interlock requirement for any vehicle they drive. If the .05 blood limit passes, these penalties could be required after someone drinks as little as one glass of wine or a glass of beer.

Not everyone thinks lighter penalties are a good option for Utah drunk driving offenders. Some lawmakers are looking for a full repeal of the .05 limit, though that is unlikely. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been advocating for a lower US blood limit for years, and Utah’s change may be beginning of the end for .08 as a legal limit.

Despite the arguing over the law, at the end of the day the .05 limit may stay put in Utah. After such a big change it would be hard to justify someone walking away with what amounts to a speeding ticket because they were stopped with a .06 or .07 blood limit.

There’s no safe amount of alcohol you can drink and still drive, and Utah may finally be the state to prove that.

Will Utah’s New Legal Blood Limit Mean Different Penalties?

Utah legal blood limitThe state of Utah ignited a firestorm of controversy when they changed the legal blood limit from the US standard of .08 to .05. Although the .05 blood limit is staying put, the penalty system that goes along with it is up for debate.

The law was only recently approved and signed by Governor Gary Herbert, and it was passed based on recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board that all states lower their legal blood limit to .05. The new blood limit will take effect in December 2018, but according to the Governor, changes to the law may be coming before then.

He announced that the Utah State Legislature will create a tiered system of penalties for anyone arrested for drunk driving in Utah, and that the state will stick to a “Colorado model” of strict to progressively harsher penalties based on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest.

The Colorado model of penalties includes DWAI (driving while ability impaired), a chargeable offense at the .05 BAC level, and DUI (driving under the influence), chargeable after .08. The difference between DWAI and DUI in Colorado is how severe the penalties are: a first time DWAI charge will give you eight points toward a driver’s license suspension and up to $500 in fines, but with a DUI you’ll lose your license and receive up to $1,000 in fines.

The sponsors of the Utah bill aren’t exactly on board with the idea of tiered penalties. That’s because the bottom line for this change to the legal blood limit was to save lives, and changing the penalties may result in more drunk drivers on the roads. Opponents of the new legal blood limit aren’t overly supportive of the tiered penalty system either: they’d rather see the entire law repealed before it comes into play in 2018.

It looks as if this law is going to cause Utah some growing pains. But just as there are bumps in the road for all positive changes, this could be a rough patch before the state finally adjusts to .05.

Utah: Implied Consent Doesn’t Apply When You’re Unconscious.

Utah drunk driving What happens if you crash your vehicle, are taken to the hospital unconscious, and police suspect you of drunk driving? You know hospital personnel will take care of you when you’re awake and able to talk, and they’re also responsible for your care when you’re unconscious.

But a lot can happen when you’re not able to answer for yourself after a crash, and one Utah drunk driving case has cast a spotlight on the specific drunk driving laws that may come into play in situations like these.

By now everyone has seen the video of nurse Alex Wubbels refusing to allow blood to be drawn from her unconscious patient after a car crash. The police officer requesting the blood draw arrested her for refusing, and the video was uploaded online and went viral shortly after.

The dust has since settled on the case and the police officer responsible has been fired, but if you’re wondering why Wubbels refused to allow the police officer to draw blood and what responsibilities did the patient have to submit to testing, even if he was unconscious, the answer is fairly simple.

Supreme Court ruling on blood samples

This isn’t the first time the subject of blood draws without consent have come up in the United States. A case that went all the way to the Supreme Court ended with a ruling that a blood sample cannot be taken from a patient without consent or a warrant.

In this case the officer had neither a warrant or the patient’s consent, but what was on his side – he believed – was the patient’s implied consent.

Utah implied consent

What is implied consent? In Utah, just like in many other states, the very act of accepting a driver’s license means that you agree to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test should a police officer suspect you of drunk driving. That implied consent will apply if you’re pulled over by police, but experts weighing in on this Utah drunk driving case have said it doesn’t apply for a blood draw in the Alex Wubbels situation.

Only lawyers know how to interpret the specifics of Utah drunk driving laws, but it’s a good case for anyone to look at because it demonstrates the different ways implied consent can be interpreted in any state.

Utah’s Lower Blood Alcohol Concentration Could Be Just The Beginning

lower blood alcohol concentrationIt’s hard to believe but it’s true: driving with .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is no longer an option in Utah. The state has finally taken the recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggesting all states adopt a lower blood alcohol concentration, and they have officially dropped its BAC from the US legal limit of .08 to the now legal limit of .05.

Although the bill looked to be touch and go for a while, Utah Governor Gary Herbert went ahead and signed it into law. Utah now has the distinction of being the one state in the entire nation with the strictest drunk driving laws, and the new law goes into effect on December 30th, 2018.

What does having a BAC that low mean for Utah drivers? To start, it means that having one or two drinks with dinner should give any driver reason to consider getting a cab or calling in a sober driver. According to one website, a man who weighs 150 pounds would only need two glasses of beer to hit .05, while a woman who weighs 120 pounds would only need one drink.

Alcohol affects everyone differently so those numbers may not add up exactly for every driver, but it’s safe to say that the new lower blood alcohol concentration will result in police casting a wider net and those who drink casually could get caught up in it.

Those who support the law feel as though any amount of alcohol is unsafe if you’re getting behind the wheel of a car, while the law’s biggest opponents, those in the restaurant, pub, and tourist industry, feel as though the law punishes those who aren’t really impaired and won’t discourage drunk driving.

No one knows what it will be like to have the new lower blood alcohol concentration in place, but it’s safe to say that all eyes will be on Utah after January 1st, 2019.

Utah Fights Drunk Driving By Drafting Bill To Lower BAC

utah drunk driving lower BAC To drive after drinking or not to drive after drinking; it’s not a trick question, and there is only one answer. There is no safe amount of alcohol you can drink before you drive. The problem is that not many people actually believe that, and that might be why one Utah lawmaker is trying to fight against drunk driving by pushing for a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the state.

Representative Norm Thurston is bringing a new bill to the 2017 Utah General Session, and it will ask the state to lower the legal BAC to .05. Right now all states follow a .08 BAC as the legal limit at which you can be charged with drunk driving.

Utah isn’t the first to bring up the idea of lowering the legal limit. For four years the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that all states lower the legal BAC to .05 or even lower, but Utah is the first state to come on board with this idea.

When it comes to driving, what’s the difference between .05 and .08? According to data cited by the NTSB when making their case, someone with a BAC between .05 and .08 are three times more likely to crash than someone with no alcohol in their blood at all. They believe that if the BAC is lower, people will be less likely to weigh the pros and cons of drinking and driving. They will just know not to drive, and if they don’t drive, they’re not going to crash.

Whether the bill lives or dies in the Utah General Session is anyone’s guess, but the fact that the representative is bringing it forward could be a sign of things to come in the United States. It’s high time to think beyond the current laws and implement change that works, and with a lower BAC, ignition interlocks, and a stiff penalties for drunk drivers, this could be the end the of the road for drunk driving.

Yes, You Can Be Arrested For Drunk Driving While Completely Sober

drunk driving crashCar crashes happen all the time. Whether it happens when you’re just driving down the road, minding your own business or you’ve been doing something like drunk driving that would result in your getting arrested after, it’s pretty nerve-racking to get into a motor vehicle crash. Even if you manage to walk away from it unscathed, you still have to deal with the police and explain what happened.

The aftermath of a motor vehicle crash can be confusing, even for the most experienced police officer. All evidence can point to the fact that you’re innocent of blame, but sometimes innocent people can get arrested too. That’s what happened in Utah recently after a woman’s car was totaled in a motor vehicle crash. She was arrested for drunk driving, but she was completely sober.

The crash happened on July 25th, and in the aftermath the police officer believed he had reason to suspect the driver of drunk driving. Some of the signs cited by police were the driver speaking in short, rapid sentences, acting jittery and unable to stand still, and failing a field sobriety test. She was searched by the police officer and booked for drunk driving.

Turns out her blood test confirmed she wasn’t drunk at all. Completely sober at the time of the crash, she’s now pursuing legal action against the city of Layton, Utah for both the arrest and an improper search. She’d like the drunk driving charge dismissed, and she’d like the police held accountable for the unconstitutional search without warrant or reason to do so.

Clearly, one person can exhibit signs of impairment that might not mean they are actually drunk behind the wheel. It just goes to show there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the world of drunk driving and drunk driving crashes.  It also shows that law enforcement, although their goal is to be vigilant, can make mistakes now and then too.

Life After A DUI In Utah

DUI-UtahWhen you’ve just received your first driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, life can seem a little grim. Depending on the state you’re in and whether or not you’re a first time or repeat offender, penalties can be either fairly light or really harsh. Utah is a state that walks a fine line between these two extremes—they don’t require ignition interlock programs required for first offenders but they do send you to jail.

Life after a DUI in Utah

A DUI can happen at any time on any road in Utah, and that’s because sobriety checkpoints are legal in the state. If you happen to see those lights flashing in your rear view mirror and you’ve had a few to drink, you better be prepared to submit to a breathalyzer test or pay a hefty price. A single refusal will net you an 18-month driver’s license suspension.

Even if you’re just a first time DUI offender in Utah, be prepared to go to jail. Utah’s DUI laws set jail time at a minimum of 48 hours. Once you’re out of jail, you’ll need to appear in court. That’s when that DUI of yours can get a little expensive.

Fines start at a minimum of $700, and you’ll also have to pay license reinstatement fees when you finally get your driver’s license back after a 120-day suspension. Just think of all the buses, cabs, and friends you’ll have to also have to pay to take you places during your driver’s license suspension,

Although you’re not required by law to install an ignition interlock if you’re a first time DUI offender in Utah, second time and subsequent offenders are. First time offenders are also required to attend a drug or alcohol screening program and you may be required to attend an educational series relating to drugs, alcohol, or both.

Does the DUI punishment fit the crime in Utah? You might not think when you’re on the wrong side of a judge’s bench, so if you don’t want to find out what life is like after a DUI in Utah, don’t drink and drive.

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