Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

A new law in Utah that takes effect at the end of next year lowers the legal limit for blood alcohol to .05. That is the lowest in the nation. Nevada's limit is .08. The bill has raised the ire of the American Beverage Institute, which is a trade group based in Washington, D.C. that lobbies for the restaurant industry. 

The group took out a full-page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal warning people in Nevada about the new law. It says someone could get arrested for driving drunk after having just one drink with dinner. 

“We think this is a mistake. It’s not based on science. It’s an anti-alcohol law, not a pro-safety law which is how they’re trying to cast it," said Sarah Longwell, who is with the lobbying group.

According to Longwell, most crashes involving alcohol in Utah have people who have extremely high blood alcohol levels. She said the question is often impairment. 

“You’re more impaired driving talking on a hands-free cellphone than you are at .05,” she said. 

And Longwell says there is no evidence that lowering the limit saves lives. 

“When you target moderate and responsible adults, moderate and responsible social drinkers all that does is drive down business, drive down tourism but it does not save lives”

Support comes from

However, the lawmaker who pushed for the law defended it. Utah State Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams told KNPR's State of Nevada that the law will help lower the number of car accidents related to alcohol. 

“Since it was passed, tourism is up. Alcohol fatalities are down,” he said.

Adams said the law hasn't even taken effect yet but already people in public safety in Utah are reporting a drop in fatalities related to alcohol. He also pointed out that most of the rest of the world has a blood alcohol limit of .05. 

 

Guests

Sarah Longwell, American Beverage Institute; St. Senator Stuart Adams, Utah

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.