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Criminal law: Utah lowers legal BAC to .05 percent

Drunk driving charges are a serious matter that can permanently alter the course of a person's future. In Alabama, a driver aged 21 or older can face criminal law charges if their blood-alcohol content is .08 percent or more. Hoping to lower the number of alcohol-related fatalities, another state is now lowering its legal BAC.

In 2017, Utah had the fewest number of people die in alcohol-related collisions. Still, with a nationwide average of 11,000 deaths -- that is 25 percent of nationwide vehicle deaths -- accounting for about 29 deaths a day, having the fewest number of deaths might not mean much. In an effort to further reduce these numbers, Utah enacted a new law on Dec. 30, 2018. Now, Utah's legal limit for driving is a .05 BAC.

While Utah's move to protect motorists is admirable, it could have negative implications for the average driver. A .05 BAC limit means that a man who weighs only 160 pounds would be considered legally intoxicated if he had two drinks in about an hour. For a 100-pound woman, the legal intoxication limit hits in after only a single drink. These strict limits might see more drivers charged with drunk driving or related allegations, putting a greater strain on the legal system and the average person.

Alabama criminal law is already fairly strict when it comes to drinking and driving. Not only do defendants face potential jail time and fines, but individuals can lose their driving privileges even if they are never convicted. While it does not appear as if Alabama plans to move to a lower BAC anytime soon, Utah's new law could cause a ripple effect throughout the entire nation.

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