For more than a decade, a blood alcohol content of .08 has been the legal limit throughout the United States. While penalties for driving under the influence have always varied across the country, until recently you could at least travel out of state and know the legal limit was the same as at home.
That’s starting to change. Last week Utah became the first state to lower the cutoff for driving under the influence to .05. While there aren’t any signs so far that other states will follow suit, that could change if it this law does, in fact, end up making Utah’s roads safer, as its supporters are hoping it will.
The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states adopt the .05 limit a few years ago, as a way to curb highway deaths, Business Insider reported at the time. Many other countries, including almost all of Europe, make it illegal to drive with a BAC above .05.
Not all of Utah’s lawmakers supported the new law, however. Some pointed to research showing that most traffic deaths caused by drunk drivers are caused by drivers with a BAC well above .15 – not by drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08.
For Louisiana residents, Utah’s law might not matter much right away unless you’re traveling out of state. But it’s a good reminder that DUI laws can and do change. And with Louisiana’s already strict DUI laws, it’s good to pay attention to these changes.