SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers voted last week to reduce the state’s blood-alcohol content threshold for driving under the influence from .08 to .05 percent, making it the strictest in the nation.
If signed into law, the .05 percent blood-alcohol limit would take effect Dec. 30, 2018.
HB155, sponsored by Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, passed with a 17-12 vote in the Senate on Thursday and previously passed the House, 48-26.
Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, R-Layton, who sponsored the bill in that chamber, said that the change will likely save the lives of 63 Utahns every year, citing data from the National Transportation Safety Board.
But that's more lives than Utah has ever lost in a year to drunken-driving incidents. According to the Utah Highway Safety Office, the state has averaged fewer than 40 deaths per year caused by drunken drivers from 2006-15.
Critics say the move could impact tourism in the Beehive State. Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, said it doesn’t bode well for Utah that its level is below the rest of the country.
"Colorado and a lot of other states are ready to go after us, and they look at every opportunity," Dabakis said.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, disagreed, saying not all tourists come to Utah to drink alcohol.
Regardless, several countries throughout the world have equal or lower blood-alcohol limits. Here’s a quick rundown those countries, according to DrinkDriving.org, which aims to raise public awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma (Myanmar), Burundi, Czech Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gambia, Georgia, Guinea, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Nepal, Oman, Panama, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.
Albania, Guyana, Palau.
China, Colombia, Estonia, Jan Mayen, Mongolia, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Svalbard, Sweden.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Japan, Mali, Montenegro, Taiwan.
Cuba, Lithuania, Samoa.
Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, Christmas Island, Cocos Island, Coral Sea Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dhekelia, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Guadeloupe, Guinea-Bissau, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Holland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macau, Macedonia, Manitoba, Martinique, Mauritius, Mayotte, Micronesia, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Korea, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Reunion, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, States of Micronesia, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor Leste, Turkey, Scotland, Venezuela, Wallis and Futuna.