Utah poised to enact nation's strictest DUI law

Utah poised to enact nation's strictest DUI law
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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is likely to sign new legislation passed Wednesday that would make the Beehive State as intolerant to drunk driving as most European countries.

State senators on Wednesday voted to advance a bill that would drop the legal blood-alcohol limit to 0.05 percent, down from the current limit of 0.08 percent.

Legislators who backed the bill said the average man would reach the 0.05 limit after three drinks and the average woman after two drinks.

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The American Beverage Institute (ABI), a trade group that represents bars and restaurants, said those estimates are one drink more than the levels would take in reality.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended in 2013 that states reduce blood alcohol limits to 0.05 percent. The board said at the time the risk of a crash would be cut in half by lowering the rate.

The ABI opposed the reduction, which they said would hurt business without significantly reducing the number of accidents.

Herbert has not formally said whether he will sign the bill, though a spokeswoman said he supported it.

Utah was the first state to implement the 0.08 limit, and it maintains some of the strictest DUI laws in the nation. Anyone convicted of driving under the influence faces a 120-day license suspension, vehicle impoundment and an ignition interlock that will not allow a vehicle to start unless a driver is sober.

Washington state lawmakers are also considering reducing the blood alcohol limit to 0.05 percent. Hawaii legislators considered but voted down a similar measure last month.