Letter: Utah's new BAC law is bad policy

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  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 9:54 p.m.

    Drinkers shouldn't be too worried about this .005 BAC law. I'm imagining it will be enforced to the same degree as our speeds limits, stop lights and stop signs, and pedestrian right of way laws. No worries.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 9:51 p.m.

    I never drink and drive so I don't have a pony in this race. However, I can't help but wonder why the only form of distracted or impaired driving worthy of legislation is the one specifically mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. If this was truly a public safety law rather than a religious law, then why not also tackle other forms of impaired driving that have been proven to be more dangerous than .005 BAC?

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 4:12 p.m.

    "These laws only hurt law abiding drinkers." Law abiding drinkers don't drink and drive. The 0.05 law will make that statutory. Now let's move on and address the other causes of distracted driving.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 3:41 p.m.

    @EmmanuelGoldstein1984: "I am a moderate social drinker and have driven home from a restaurant or dinner party hundreds of times in my life. I have done so extra carefully each time"

    Why the need to be "extra careful" if you are not impaired?

    When I am impaired to any material degree--too little sleep, medication, talking on a cell phone--I simply don't drive. I save "extra careful" for adverse road/weather/traffic conditions. If I'm impaired, I simply don't drive. Period.

    That is all I demand of drinkers.

    "It's unfair .... If teetotaling lawmakers want to punish moderate drinkers, they should outlaw distracted driving as well -- and apply the same harsh penalties."

    Unfair to endanger me by driving impaired. This is about banning impaired driving. Legislators don't usually use drugs, commit murder, or engage in robbery. They legislate on all these topics.

    I support cell phone bans and harsh penalties for violation. I do not believe we need to wait until we have support for that, before addressing the proven danger of driving impaired. 0.05% BAC doubles the risk of a crash. That is too impaired to drive no matter how "extra careful" you think you are.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2018 3:09 p.m.

    Some people tell us that Europeans can hold their liquor and Utahns can't. Where's the proof? The human body reacts to whatever it injests. Just because someone can appear to be sober with a BAC of 0.05 or 008 or 0.15 doesn't mean that he is sober. Just because he thinks that he can drive if he drives carefully and attentively doesn't mean that he is driving safely, He may think that he is the world's best driver but he has already proven that his thought process is impaired. Just because someone had his fill of alcohol at a party and still arrived home without killing or maining someone doesn't mean that he should be allowed to drive. Just because someone used a cell-phone doesn't excuse a drinker from pretending that his own impaired driving is not life-threatning.

    Let's address the real issues. At what BAC can EVERYONE who chooses to drink and drive be certified as safe drivers? At what BAC does ANYONE start to become a danger to society? Our laws protect society, not those who think that they are supermen. Drinking and driving is not a Constitutionally guaranteed right. We have every right to limit it at any BAC level where anyone can be a danger to society.

  • The Educator South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 10:24 a.m.

    Won't bad drinkers just ignore these laws and continue and drink and drive? If laws don't change the behavior and attitudes of gun nuts, why would laws change alcoholics? These laws only hurt law abiding drinkers. Why should a low information Mormon legislature consisting of 90 percent of Mormons make these decisions? That's not representative of our population. But big money, gerrymandering, and smear tactics have taken their toll.

    Get Educated

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 9:24 a.m.

    Ban all cell phone use by drivers.

  • EmmanuelGoldstein1984 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 9:21 a.m.

    I am a moderate social drinker and have driven home from a restaurant or dinner party hundreds of times in my life. I have done so extra carefully each time and have never come even close to an accident.

    Meanwhile, I witness distracted drivers here in SLC virtually every day driving erratically while using a cell phone, controlling children, changing the radio dial, etc .

    It's unfair to penalize just one segment of the driving population. If teetotaling lawmakers want to punish moderate drinkers, they should outlaw distracted driving as well -- and apply the same harsh penalties.

  • pragmatistferlife Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 9:02 a.m.

    "Europe uses 0.05 BAC. Many Liberals tout everything European, especially their health system. Could it be that they have found a correlation between BAC higher that 0.05 and high health care costs?"

    Europe and their drinking habits looks nothing like America and especially Salt Lake City. Any correlation they find is specific to their circumstances and not to ours. The idea of .05 is to stop someone from getting started with excessive drinking. In Salt Lake we virtually have no traffic problems at .08 much less .05.

    Europe has a culture of drinking far more excessively than America (having participated a few times), but they walk, and take public transportation. .o5 probably does make drivers think before being excessive.

    That's not our culture, and specifically not our problem here.

    The author is correct here, and Mr. Richards has no idea of what he's talking about.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 8:51 a.m.

    If "having one or two drinks" doesn't impair your driving skills, there is no probable cause to be stopped by law enforcement. The reality is that people consume alcohol for its pharmacological effect which translates into impaired reflexes, attention and judgment. Most developed countries in Europe and Asia and the US National Transportation Safety Board have either adopted or recommended a BAC of 0.05% as the legal limit. Utah is ahead of the curve and the real question is why other states haven't adopted a 0.05 law.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2018 10:34 p.m.

    Where do we start this type of discussion? Do we start it with telling everyone that other things are just as bad? What kind of argument is that? It addresses nothing about the 0.05 BAC. At what BAC point would the family of someone killed by someone who had been drinking be satisfied that the drinker was not impaired? We have zero tolerance when someone says no to sex. Should that be changed? Should the courts allow a pass on the first "no", on the second "no"? When? How many cigarettes should be smoked on an airplane or restaurant before smokers agree that they're harming society?

    Europe uses 0.05 BAC. Many Liberals tout everything European, especially their health system. Could it be that they have found a correlation between BAC higher that 0.05 and high health care costs?

    At exactly what BAC can society be absolutely guaranteed that a drinker will not, ever, under any condition, harm another human being?

  • RJohnson Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2018 10:14 p.m.

    Any BAC law that hints at a magic number where one can consume alcohol and then be safe behind the wheel of a car is a bad law. Zero tolerance for drinking and driving should be the goal. If you like to take an occasional drink I suggest you also take an occasional taxi.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Jan. 9, 2018 9:22 p.m.

    When Utah banned smoking in office buildings and most other public buildings some 35 years ago, smokers and the tobacco industry claimed we were imposing religious values via civil law. We were not. And today nobody disputes the secular, social benefits of that law.

    Smokers just wanted to enjoy a cigarette at their desk. But that was killing co workers.

    There is nothing wrong with a few drinks with dinner. Just don't drive after drinking. A 0.05% BAC doubles the risk for a crash. That is not acceptable to impose on society just for personal convenience.

    If you drink, don't drive. When I travel for business my co workers are thrilled to have a non drinker along to play DD after dinner. They will not drive after a single drink. It just isn't worth the risk.

    Utah drinkers appear more likely to drive impaired than are drinkers in other States.

    And I fully support cell phone bans with penalties comparable to DUI. Sadly, we still have a lot of social resistance to proper DUI laws. It is gping to take a while to convince voters to properly prohibit and punish driving while texting or phoning.

    So lets do what we can to improve where we can.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 9, 2018 8:15 p.m.

    "Despite many legislators abstaining from alcohol altogether, many of us do occasionally enjoy one or two drinks and would prefer not to be put in handcuffs and thrown into financial ruin."

    Many Legislators and politicians SAY they abstain, but they don't. Remember lawmaker Sheldon Killpack? Waaay over the legal limit. Last week, Layton councilman and SLC 911 director, Scott Freitag blew a .214. 2 1/2 the legal limit and over 4 times .05% BAC. .05%BAC is nothing but show and a harmful law to Utah tourism and business expansion.

  • Doom Turtle SLC/SLC, UT
    Jan. 9, 2018 6:55 p.m.

    Drivers using cell phones including hands free are impaired equivalent to a .08 BAL according to published peer-reviewed research. I have been rear-ended 3 times (twice at speeds over 30mph) while stationary in traffic by cell phone wielding drivers while stopped in traffic during commuting times. This is a far more dangerous threat to public safety than a .05 BAL driver.

    Many of the same countries used as examples for the efficacy of the .05 BAL in improving road safety also forbid cell phone use while driving. The data cannot be separated. Driving in Germany where phone use is banned, I never saw an accident in two weeks. I can't drive to work or back each day here in Utah without seeing at least one, often with significant travel delays to hundreds of drivers.. Lets ban phone use and save lives, our cars, and our time.