Governor Herbert in Utah just signed a bill to lower Utah’s BAC threshold for DUI offenses from .08 to .05. Utah will be the first state to lower their BAC to this level when the law takes effect in 2018. It’s noteworthy that Utah was also the first state to lower their BAC from .10 to .08. Thereafter, the rest of the country followed in their footsteps. It has been illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or greater in all 50 states since 2002.
In Colorado, there is a permissible inference that someone is under the influence of alcohol if they submit a chemical test of their blood or breath at .08 or more. Similarly there is a permissible inference that a person is driving while ability impaired if they submit a chemical test of their blood or breath at .051 BAC up to .079 BAC. A driver is presumed that they are not under the influence and not impaired if they submit a chemical test of their blood or breath at .05 or less (although sometimes Colorado police officers still charge people with DUI and DWAI even if they submit testing at .05 or less).
Drivers charged with DUI or DWAI after submitting chemical testing reflecting a BAC of .05 or less have the “power of the statute” behind them. However, often times a DUI defense lawyer must “politely remind” a district attorney prosecuting this type of case as to what the statute reads CRS 42-4-1301.
Also in Colorado, if a person submits a chemical test of his blood yielding a result of 5 nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of whole blood there is a permissible inference that the person is under the influence of THC- Marijuana.
Thus, people may wonder if Colorado will follow along with Utah and lower their BAC threshold from .08 to .05.
According to an article by Amy Joi O’Donoghue of Desert News Utah, the Utah governor “pointed out that 85 percent of the world’s population currently lives in countries with laws that have .05 percent blood-alcohol limits or less, including France and Italy”.
Some countries even have stricter BAC limits. China and Colombia for instance have a BAC limit of .02. Whereas India, Japan, and Taiwan have a BAC limit of .03.
Only time will tell how Utah’s direction with this new BAC legislation will impact other states who may wish to follow in their footsteps.