The legal blood alcohol level for minors who drive in Utah should be zero, according to a bill proposed Friday by the Alcohol Policy Coalition and the Utah Medical Association.
Dr. George Van Komen said the bill, sponsored by Sen. Lane Beattie, R-Davis, would harmonize Utah's driving laws with the national law prohibiting purchase and possession of alcohol for youths under the age of 21. Four states - Oregon, Wisconsin, Maine and North Carolina - have passed such restrictive laws.The bill proposes a mandatory 90-day license suspension for minors driving with a blood alcohol level greater than zero. For the second offense, a minor would receive a mandatory one-year license revocation.
"If the law states that you can't drink an alcoholic beverage, you certainly can't drive," he said.
A similar law went into effect in Oregon during the fall of 1989. The year before the law was passed, in 1988, 124 teens in the state were killed in alcohol-related accidents. In 1990, only 79 youths were killed in alcohol-related deaths, for a 60 percent reduction.
Van Komen wants to see that same kind of success at curbing tipsy-driving accidents in Utah. Van Komen said about 50 percent of all deaths on Utah highways are alcohol related, while about one-sixth of those involve teenagers.