Utah Gov. Herbert says modifying penalties, delaying BAC .05 law valid options

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 14, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Governor Gary Herbert said Wednesday that the state’s Legislature is likely to make minor modifications to the state’s controversial new DUI law, which defines the legal intoxication level at 0.05 blood alcohol content.

Talking with reporters at a monthly news conference, Herbert said a change could to the pending law could include a tiered system of penalties for those arrested for drunk driving, similar to the system in place in Colorado.

“Colorado, as you know, has 0.05, but they don’t have as stiff of penalties as 0.05 to 0.08,” Herbert said. “After 0.08, the penalties get a little more stiff.”

“It has appeal to me — the two-tiered approach similar to what’s been done in Colorado on the penalty aspect of it. … In Utah’s neighboring state, the enforcement of the lower limit is accompanied by penalties that are less severe than violating the .08 blood alcohol threshold.”

The law, set to take effect at the end of 2018, could use a few fixes to lessen the chance of “unintended consequences,” Herbert said. Delaying the implementation of the 0.05 law is an option worth considering, he said.

“Why don’t we wait until two or three other states have the same 0.05 and we join with them at the same time so that we are not just alone in our approach?,” he said. “That is another way to address it.”

The 0.05 law has drawn criticism from restaurateurs and hospitality experts who fear visitors will stay away. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, has said the law’s intent is to save lives.


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