Crime

Utah To Have Strictest Drunk Driving Law In Nation

| by Lauren Briggs

Utah will have the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation, as the state's Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a controversial new bill into law that would lower the blood-alcohol limit for drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent.

House Bill 155, signed on March 23, also applies to armed individuals who are not driving, notes the Salt Lake Tribune. Anyone who carries a weapon with a .05 or higher Blood Alcohol Content could face a Class B misdemeanor.

However, the new rules will not be enforced until December 2018 at the earliest, so there is time to tweak the bill if needed and to give a "more thorough consideration of how this new standard is applied," Herbert said at a KUED news conference, according to the Tribune.

"I don't believe ... that this legislation is finished," Herbert explained. "There are some areas of improvement I think are warranted and are necessary … [Critics] are going to have an opportunity in many public hearings and meetings to be heard so we can understand and get this right. [Legislative] leadership has agreed to this."

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Herbert went on to say that he intends to hold a special session in the summer to discuss some of the more controversial aspects of the law with legislators.

"There are some areas of improvement I think are warranted and are necessary," he explained, notes KUED. "And we can look at impaired driving and distracted driving and repeat offenders -- those who in fact have been arrested for DUIs on multiple occasions -- and our punishment, and what are the consequences of the punishment."

Many people have taken issue with the weapons portion of the law, which the Utah Shooting Sports Council described as an "ugly hidden Easter egg for gun owners," according to NPR.

"Apparently the legislature never saw the connection between this bill and gun rights, and as such, this issue was never debated," the group wrote in a letter template that many supporters sent to Herbert to urge him to veto the law.

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Ultimately, the governor said he made the decision to support the measured based on the fact that it is good policy.

"That’s my charge, is it good policy?" he said, according to KUED. "And I'm here to announce, that after thorough analysis, that I believe it is it is good policy. And that this new policy will, in fact, save lives."

Sources: NPR, KUER, Salt Lake Tribune / Photo Credit: Michael Jolley/Flickr

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