Get your bail money ready as Salt Lake City and the rest of Utah are set to enforce one of the strictest laws when it comes to drinking and driving. The new law lowers the blood-alcohol limit to 0.05 percent—the lowest in the nation. That might mean a single drink or two can get you above the legal limit, even after an hour has passed.
Utah and Alcohol
Utah has one of the lowest rates of DUI-related incidents and fatalities. Partly because of Utah’s strict enforcement of its laws and partly because of its population. More than 50 percent of Utah residents are Mormons, and their faith forbids consuming alcohol, tea, and coffee. Some residents against this legislation believe that the Mormon faith has an undue influence on state laws, while others have pointed out that the 0.05 percent limit will save thousands of lives. The National Transportation Safety Board supports the change, and four other states—Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and Washington—have expressed interest in following Utah’s example.
The new law can put more strain on Utah’s already crowded prison system. The state’s enforcement of its laws is one of the strictest and most unforgiving. Petty crimes are regularly prosecuted, and substance abuse or addiction can still land you in jail. Sadly, the majority of inmates in Utah prisons are individuals who have mental conditions or substance abuse problems. Prison is not the best place for these individuals, and prisons are ill-equipped to meet their different needs. Suicide and self-harm among inmates are common and almost unavoidable.
The wheels of justice in Utah also turn at an unbelievably slow pace. More than half of all Utah prison inmates have yet to be convicted, and some are still waiting for the start of their actual trial. If you’re apprehended for a DUI violation, you’ll spend more time waiting for your time in court than your actual sentence. A first DUI violation only has a mandatory two days of jail time, but waiting for that hearing to start and eventually, end can take months. In Salt Lake City, bail guarantors such as Beehive Bail Bonds are helpful in these cases; the waiting period can be effectively longer than the actual sentence.
Hold Your Breath
A drink or two can put you over the limit, but as long as you haven’t violated any laws, it shouldn’t even be an issue. As long as you haven’t violated any laws and an officer isn’t arresting you, you are not required by law to take a Breathalyzer test. These tests are purely voluntary and cannot be forced upon you without a clear violation. However, once you are arrested, refusing a Breathalyzer test can aggravate your sentencing.
Getting a drink just got a lot more complicated in Utah. A couple of glasses of wine when dining can be enough to get you charged. Though this can mean safer streets and happier Uber drivers, everyday residents will need to take utmost caution in drinking and skip that one for the road.