Utah will soon impose the country's strictest limits for drunk driving.
The new law, which goes into effect on December 30, lowers the blood alcohol content limit from the national standard of .08 percent to .05 percent.
That’s just about one or two drinks every couple of hours for the average American woman, and two for the average American man.
Utah governor Gary Herbert has touted the new limit, saying it will save lives.
“It will move us closer to having safer streets and a better environment for us to conduct our business, raise our families and enjoy the beauties and wonders of Utah,” he said about the proposed law at a 2017 press conference.
The lower limit is recommended by both the World Health Organization and the National Transportation Safety Board. But Utah’s new policy is opposed by the American Beverage Institute.
“Instead of focusing on these moderate, responsible, social drinkers, lawmakers should focus on the legitimately drunk drivers who are causing the fatalities,” said Jackson Shedelbower, a spokesperson for the American Beverage Institute.
He points to a recent case study in the medical journal the Lancet. It looked at Scotland’s 2014 lowering of its blood alcohol content limit to .05 percent from .08 percent. Researchers found the new policy had little impact on the number of traffic accidents there.
Greece and France also have .05 percent blood alcohol content limits. But according to World Health Organization data, drunk driving accidents still happen at about the same frequency as they do in the United States.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.