In an article titled “Researcher Pitches Lawmakers On Lowering Legal Drinking Limit”, City Weekly contributor Eric Peterson, discusses a bill proposed to the Legislature by The Sutherland Institute that aims to lower the legal drinking Blood Alcohol Concentration limit from .08 to .05.
Senator John Valentine of Orem, questioned if law enforcement would be able to use probable cause to pull drivers over who might be at or above .05, since it may be harder to observe the effects of alcohol at that level. James Fell, a senior researcher at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, countered that enforcement would stay the same; if an officer observes unusual driving and pulls someone over, a simple field sobriety test could be employed before having someone take a breathalyzer test.
Charles Stewart disagrees with this. In the interview, Stewart, who has received instructor-level certification on administering field-sobriety tests, points out that the tests have not been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as valid for a BAC limit of .05, which could pose legal problems if an individual were pulled over.
For officers to have probable cause that would justify the use of a breathalyzer test, they would first have to conduct a field-sobriety test on the driver. The traditional sobriety tests, like walking a straight line and turning around, have “over the course of three decades, been studied, measured and validated at .10 and .08 [BAC] but not at .05,” Stewart says.
Still, Fell felt confident that the lowered limit was sound policy, arguing to the committee that lowering the BAC bar will affect the behavior of those leaving the bar, and other Utahns who may be considering drinking and driving. He feels it sends the message that the state is getting tougher on drunk driving and bar goers will have fewer drinks before driving, or get a designated driver.
You can read the full article here: http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/blog-25-10042-researcher-pitches-lawmakers-on-lowering-legal-drinking-limit.html