SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Alcohol-related crashes decreased sharply in Utah after a new state law dropped the legal blood-alcohol limit from .08% to .05%, the lowest threshold in the nation, data show.
However, the Utah Highway Patrol said there is not enough information yet to say the decrease in crashes was a direct result of the new limit.
“I hope it is,” Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said.
Street said he believes the new law is creating a “healthy fear” among people who are making plans not to drink and drive when they go out.
The figures show there were 236 alcohol-related crashes resulting in three fatalities during the first quarter of 2019, down from 416 crashes and 10 deaths during the same period in 2018, the Deseret News reported Saturday.
State troopers worked more than 170 extra DUI shifts over the holiday weekend and have reminded people to get a designated driver or taxi if they plan on drinking alcohol at an event.
Between Jan. 1 and March 31, troopers arrested 2,713 people on suspicion of DUI. The say 135 had blood-alcohol content between .05% and .079%. Street said the majority had measurements of more than .08%, the previous limit.
From May 24 through July 1, there were 11 people killed in 11 crashes. In 2018, between May 25 and July 2, there were 30 crashes resulting in 34 deaths, according to statistics from the Utah Highway Patrol.
The time between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend is known in Utah as the 100 deadliest days of summer because fatal crashes nearly double on state roads, authorities say.