Utah's New DUI Law Sets BAC at .05

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 14, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a bid to make Utah more like Europe, lawmakers in the state have passed two changes to the state's alcohol laws. One eases the "Zion Curtain" restriction and the other lowers the blood-alcohol content (BAC) requirement for being convicted for a DUI from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.

The pair of new laws are expected to be signed into law by Utah's Governor, Gary Herbert, who has stated his support. However, the new BAC level has created some controversy, as it will be the lowest in the country. Given Utah's current regulation of alcohol, along with their history of being strict on alcohol, it is not surprising to see the state take this step.

The 0.03% Difference

The reduction to the BAC level required to convict a driver of DUI was met with strong support and opposition. Supporters relied not just on the recommendation of the NTSB, but also the fact that countless countries across the globe, particularly in Europe, adhere to a 0.05% BAC standard with marked success in reducing injuries. Statistics cited by the NHTSA show that the risk of an accident doubles when a driver's BAC goes from 0.05% to 0.08%.

Opponents explain that over 75% of DUI accident injuries occur when a driver has a BAC of 0.15% or greater, and that the new law won't have an impact on that figure. Additionally, opponents believe that this law will lead to a reduction in food and beverage sales, as well as have an impact on the tourism industry in the state.

The Zion Curtain

Alongside the new BAC law tightening Utah's DUI requirements, the state's legislature is trying to make selling alcohol just a tiny bit easier for restaurants. Zion Curtain laws refer to regulations that prohibit restaurants and bars from mixing or making alcoholic beverages in view of children. The purpose is to prevent children and minors from being lured by the devil's drink as the pouring, mixing, and general seductiveness of a well trained bottle slinger, are presumed to attract children.

Currently, the law requires that there be a physical seven-foot barrier that prevents children from seeing drinks being mixed at restaurants. The new law allows two alternative methods. One requires creating a railing or 6 foot tall wall that will separate out the area where children are not allowed, while the other requires creating a 10 foot buffer zone around bars inside restaurants where children are not permitted to be seated.

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