Lawmaker wants to pump the brakes on Utah’s controversial .05 DUI law

Posted at 2:31 PM, Feb 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-12 19:28:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A new bill introduced in the Utah State Legislature would delay implementation of the nation's toughest anti-drunk driving law.

Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Taylorsville, introduced House Bill 345 last week, which delays Utah's new .05 DUI law until at least 2022. It also includes some changes making it so immigrant drivers are not barred from getting their licenses.

Currently, the law is scheduled to go into effect on New Year's Eve.

"We don’t know what’s going to happen with this," said Rep. Kwan. "We don’t know implementation, how we’re going to do that. The policy, I think the policy is a bad one anyways."

The bill that passed last year lowered Utah's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level from .08 to .05. Restaurant and hospitality groups, including Ski Utah, have vigorously opposed the legislation. They have worried it will harm tourism to Utah and continues to make the state look "weird" when it comes to liquor laws.

Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill into law, but demanded lawmakers address any "unintended consequences."

Rep. Kwan had originally threatened to repeal the law altogether, but said she does not believe that will get through the legislature.

"I think that it’s bad policy, I think it’s not sound policy," she told FOX 13. "But I’m not sure there’s a political will in Utah to do that."

The .05 DUI law's sponsor, Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said he believes the law is here to stay.

"This bill should have probably gone into effect sooner," he said.

Rep. Thurston himself is tweaking his own law, including addressing negative impacts a .05 DUI might have on concealed weapons permit holder. He told FOX 13 he remains proud of the law and believes it is already saving lives.

"We’re already seeing preliminary data that suggests drunk driving is down and that has resulted in fewer deaths. It’s certainly resulted in fewer arrests," he said.