New Utah’s BAC Limit –Necessary Change or Hidden Agenda

With Utah’s BAC limit lowered to a mere .05%, residents are questioning whether or not the change was necessary or if there was a hidden agenda; perhaps increased revenue for the state?

Designated driver needed for a dinner date

BAC Limit

Photo by: Mark Bonica

Beginning in December 2018, anyone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner in Utah may want to call a cab or bring along a designated driver. Utah’s new lowered BAC limit will make it almost impossible for any average person to have a single drink and still be legally safe to drive. Although most distressing vehicle accidents where alcohol is a factor involve drunk drivers with a limit well over the current BAC limit, Utah went ahead and set the bar extremely low with a BAC limit of .05%, the lowest in the nation.

Tourists beware

Speaking of the rest of the nation, those planning on vacationing in Utah need to read up on laws in Utah that differ from where they are visiting from. The big change that may catch tourists by surprise is the lowered BAC limit. The rest of the country shares a similar BAC limit of .08% which Utah had also agreed upon until recently. Now those who travel through Utah, occasionally having a drink but attempting to be good citizens by staying under the BAC limit may end up with drunk driving charges; charges that are not only being called outrageous, but downright expensive.

Money, money, money

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

While bars and restaurants throughout Utah are foreseeing the monetary repercussions the new BAC limit will have on their businesses, all Utah residents who enjoy an occasional drink may end up feeling the financial blow as well. Come December of next year, driving with a BAC of .05% or more will result in DUI charges. Driving under the influence of alcohol in Utah is a class B misdemeanor as long as no one was injured and there were no minor passengers in the car. Along with a small stint behind bars and a suspended driver’s license, driving under the influence results in a hefty fine. Although most judges will order an initial fine of $700, it usually ends up costing more than $1,300 after other fees and taxes; More than a thousand dollars for every person that is caught driving under the influence. Until recently, those drivers forking over $1,300 were the ones that pushed the “one drink with dinner” to maybe 2, 3 or more. With the new BAC limit in Utah, there is likely to be an influx of generally responsible drivers facing DUI charges and more money coming out of their pockets.

More DUI arrests equal increase revenue

Losing $1,300 can be devastating to those on a budget or for individuals and families who are living paycheck to paycheck. There are some who won’t be complaining however, and that is the state of Utah. When a hefty fine is paid, the money usually gets redistributed, with a portion going to a state treasury for programs such as: domestic violence activism; school districts; and law enforcement training. The remainder may be divvied up between the courts, cities, and other funds that are not explained entirely. In other words, the state of Utah and all its entities lose nothing with the lowered BAC limit and end up better off financially for it. The residents and business however are the ones losing.

Stay informed on BAC limit

Photo by: Nick Fisher

Photo by: Nick Fisher

It is important for Utah residents or those visiting Utah to stay informed on current laws so as not to be blindsided when they are quickly pulled over by eager to arrest officers. By limiting drinks, taking public transportation, or arranging a designated driver, it may help to keep any extra “alcohol money” from ending up in the greedy hands of the state. For more information on current and upcoming Utah laws including those regarding the new BAC limit, contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI charges.

Uptick of Family Disputes and Violence on Thanksgiving

Law enforcement has noted that there is an uptick of calls regarding family disputes or violence between family members during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving. There are things that can be done to help avoid sticky situations and keep the peace during the upcoming family festivities.

Picture perfect

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Thanksgiving Day is a time when many people gather together with their relatives to enjoy a magnificent feast. They may envision laughing while good memories are shared and made with everyone eating delicious food and sipping on bubbly. Luckily, this is the reality for some families. Others however, dread the upcoming holiday knowing that Great Aunt Beatrice is probably going to say something snarky about a cousin’s questionable relationship while after four to five glasses of champagne, Uncle Joe usually loses his ability to filter the words that exit his mouth. Unfortunately, during Thanksgiving or other family get-togethers, it is not rare to have family disputes arise that can quickly escalate into violence.

It begins…

Photo by: Paul Townsend

Photo by: Paul Townsend

While the meal itself can be a joyous part of Thanksgiving, the time leading up to dinner time can be stressful for those responsible for feeding a small army. This stress becomes evident as people head out shopping for the ingredients needed to complete their glorious spread. Grocery stores are usually jam-packed leading up to Thanksgiving with hundreds of other people with not only the same idea, but often with a shopping list similar to those around them. When the pumpkin pies run out or stuffing mix is nowhere to be found, some may start to lose their cool. Others might manage to maintain their composure until they make it home where their stress can lead to agitation and tension between family members.

Wanted (and unwanted) house guests

Family Disputes

Photo by: Corey Balazowich

If hotels have no vacancy or family members want to save money on lodging, they may be invited (or invite themselves) to stay with family members in the area they are visiting. When multiple family members get crammed under one roof, differences of opinions are to be expected. Some arguments may arise due to bedrooms and bathrooms being reluctantly shared; too many know it all cooks in the kitchen; or family members who are not on good terms with each other being forced to rub shoulders more than desired. Any of these or other uncomfortable circumstances can cause already delicate situations to escalate. Sometimes family disputes quickly fizzle out, other times they simmer only to explode later on into physical confrontations.

Prepare and avoid family disputes

Everyone knows the holidays can be stressful and that every member of the family is likely to be in attendance at family gatherings, whether or not they are entirely welcome. With this foresight in mind, it might be wise to prepare for uncomfortable situations and avoid things that can cause disputes to spiral into violence.

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Some suggestions to help limit intense arguments and calls to law enforcement include:

• Avoid hot button topics. If hot button topics such as religion or politics are liable to spark heated debates that can turn physical, make it a rule to avoid these while stuck together at a table.

• Seating chart. Recommend to the host a seating chart that will keep certain people apart who are more likely to argue.

• Limit embarrassing or unpleasant storytelling. If stories from the past aren’t enjoyable for everyone, leave them behind and interject immediately if these reminiscences begin to surface. This is easier for the host to do, as they should have a say in what goes on in their home.

Photo by: jenny downing

Photo by: jenny downing

• Keep the drinking to a minimum. Excessive alcohol consumption has a way of turning a simple argument into an all-out fist fight.

• Get out of there. If a family dinner turns hostile, it may be time to leave. If things do turn into physical confrontations, it is better not to be an involved party when law enforcement gets called in.

• Be a peacemaker. Often it can take a single person to help lighten the mood when things begin to go sour. Be thankful and courteous; patient and understanding. Set the tone and others will hopefully follow suit.

Flying under the Influence in Utah

A pilot from Utah was recently arrested for flying under the influence (FUI?) after he attempted to fly a commercial passenger plane with blood alcohol content over the legal flying limit.

A tipsy pilot

Flying Under the Influence

Photo by: Cory W. Watts

38 year old Russel Duszak from Salt Lake City was arrested for flying under the influence after airport personnel detected a strong odor of alcohol from Duszak nearly 30 minutes prior to his flight from South Dakota to Utah. Authorities did not state the exact blood alcohol content of Duszak, only affirming that it was over the .04 limit for pilots.

Flying under the influence in Utah

Utah Code 72-10-50 states: “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of an aircraft within this state if the person:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating an aircraft; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.”
Any person convicted of flying under the influence is guilty of a class B misdemeanor or class A misdemeanor if someone was injured during the drunken flight.

In control of the plane

Some may argue that Duszak cannot be arrested for flying under the influence as he was technically not flying the plane, seeing how passengers hadn’t even boarded yet. This may be true however when it comes to DUI’s, a driver does not need to be driving a vehicle intoxicated to get a DUI- they only need to be in control of the vehicle. 30 minutes prior to takeoff, there was a high likelihood that Duszak was in the cockpit, in control of the plane. Additionally, federal regulations prohibit any pilot from consuming alcohol eight hours before a flight. So either way he would be facing charges whether state, federal, or both.