by Jared Bray, ABS-CBN News
SALT LAKE CITY — House Bill 155 has officially made its way through the Utah Capitol, giving the state the strictest DUI law in the country.
The legislation cuts Utah’s legal blood alcohol content limit by 38 percent — dropping it from 0.08 to 0.05.
The controversial law has divided the state, including its Filipino community.
Proponents say it targets impaired driving and should help keep Utah’s roads safe.
“I support that totally,” Utah resident Keen Arcayan said. “I love the idea. Lowering the blood level will keep us safe and would be making people more responsible for themselves.”
Opponents of the law believe the new standard will criminalize moderate drinkers and hurt the state’s restaurant and tourism industries.
“Yan yung magpipigil sa mga tourista na gustuhin pumunta rito,” veteran bartender Ruby Howard said. “Of course, may mga diehard na mga tourista na pupunta pa rin, pero it will be less.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Norman Thurston, noted that the new rate could save the number of lives lost in alcohol-related accidents.
“Alcohol-related deaths fell when we went from 0.10 to 0.08,” he said. “We know that it has that impact, and it’s not because law enforcement is out there arresting more people. It’s because it changes behavior of people who drink.”
Thurston also pointed out that 85 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with a limit of 0.05 or lower and that two other states, Hawaii and Washington, are considering reducing their limits.
Gov. Gary Herbert said he plans to call lawmakers into a special legislative session this summer to improve the law, which is set to take effect in December 2018.