HB 155: Lowering the Legal BAC Level

This Bill passed the House 48-26 and the Senate 17-12.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

Under current law, a person operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or above is guilty of driving under the influence and is subject to license suspension and incarceration.

House Bill 155, sponsored by Representative Norm Thurston, would lower that rate to .05, thereby criminalizing many more Utahns who have not necessarily harmed another person or any property.

This proposal, if successful, would position Utah as the first state to lower the rate to this level.

According to a recent report from the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, the average BAC level for DUI arrestees was nearly 0.15%—almost twice the existing prohibited level. Those who are getting into accidents and harming others are consuming much more alcohol than the 0.05 to 0.08% being newly criminalized under this legislation.

While we can agree with the desired outcomes—less fatalities on the road—the means proposed in this legislation would unnecessarily criminalize people who are not necessarily driving recklessly. For that reason, given the consequences illegitimately imposed on such people, we must oppose this legislation.