Drunk driving is a pervasive problem and New Jersey has adopted laws that not only punish those who get behind the wheel after drinking but also serve to deter others from doing so. While most areas of the country use 0.08 as the maximum percentage of blood alcohol content that is considered legal to operate a vehicle, one state is looking to lower that threshold as a means of reducing drunk driving deaths.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, lawmakers in Utah recently passed legislation that would lower the legal limit for driving to 0.05. If enacted, it will be the first state in the country to do so. Utah already has a low number of drunk driving fatalities compared to other states, although the number of deadly crashes has been on the rise. If the new law is successful, however, other state legislatures may seek a similar change.
Not everyone is in favor of the lowered standard. For instance, the restaurant industry has expressed concern that the law could affect how much people spend. Others argue that the law will simply encourage those who do drink at restaurants to find another way to get home.
Many people may reach the threshold of 0.05 after just one or two drinks, depending on their size and other factors. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, with a BAC of 0.05, a person’s coordination and response time are decreased. By comparison, a BAC of 0.08 can cause not only physical problems, but cognitive functions such as memory and perception can be affected as well.