On December 30, Utah will become the first U.S. state to reduce its blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving from 0.08 percent—still the standard in all other states—to 0.05 percent. The lower limit is on par with other countries, including some European nations and Australia.
A commentary written by the respective directors of two health policy institutes in Texas backs this change, citing a new poll that found 55 percent of Americans support this change and 46 percent support lowering the legal limit to 0.00 (no detectable alcohol).
They note that the National Transportation Safety Board has also pushed for the change based on data showing that the risk of a fatal crash is seven times higher among drivers with BACs of .05 to .079 percent as compared to drivers who have not been drinking. They estimate that this change, if implemented nationwide, would save nearly 1,800 lives every year.
Of course, such a change is not without controversy. Opponents in Utah express concerns about impacts to the state’s beverage and tourism industries, as well as criminalizing what they see as responsible drinking.