At the end of December, Utah will lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving from 0.08 to 0.05 percent, the lowest in the nation. While a survey shows a majority of Americans back this change, simply lowering the limit and assuming the problem will go away is not the end of the story.
A new study found that police in British Columbia were far more likely to document alcohol involvement in a crash than the involvement of cannabis, other recreational drugs, or potentially impairing medications. The study’s authors suggest this raises doubts both about the police’s ability to enforce drug-impaired driving laws as well as public health officials’ documentation of drug-impaired driving.
Utah recently approved the nation’s strictest drunk driving standards. Republican Governor Gary Herbert signed legislation on March 23 that will reduce the maximum blood alcohol limit for drivers to .05 percent from the current threshold of .08 percent. The new standard is slated to take effect at the end of 2018. The legislation has been controversial, pitting opponents in the state’s tourism and hospitality industries against supporters in the fields of transportation safety, and public health.
New research finds that states that have passed laws requiring ignition-interlock devices (IIDs) for all drivers convicted of drunk driving have seen a collective 15 percent drop in deaths from drunk-driving crashes compared with rates in states without this requirement. Other studies show that IIDs alone are not sufficient to curb drunk driving. To be most effective, states should adopt IID laws that kick in on the first offense and provide sufficient oversight to monitor continued use of the IIDs.