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Utah's New .05 Blood Alcohol Limit Will Become Effective During the 2018-2019 Holiday Season
December 06, 2018
Parsons Behle & Latimer Legal Briefings

On Dec. 30, just in time for New Year's Eve celebrations, Utah will become the first state in the nation to lower its driver blood alcohol content limit significantly from .08 to .05 percent. Because the law was enacted more than a year-and-a-half ago in the spring of 2017, now is a good time to remind your employees about the upcoming change, to avoid any surprises. 

The implementation of the law also serves as motivation to develop strategies to avoid excessive alcohol consumption at company-related events, such as upcoming holiday parties, and to ensure that employees do not drive under the influence. Any combination of the following may help prevent excessive drinking during your event and reduce the chance of driving under the influence of alcohol after your event:

  • In advance of the event, request volunteer designated drivers who pledge not to drink alcohol and who will be responsible for driving specific individuals. The company can incentivize designated drivers with gift cards, special non-alcoholic drinks and other perks so they don't feel they are missing out or sacrificing. 
  • Serve only beer and wine instead of offering a full bar or punch spiked with liquor. People tend to consume more alcohol when drinking liquor and cannot gauge the alcohol content of spiked punch.
  • Offer plenty of interesting non-alcoholic beverages and consider having a signature drink that is alcohol-free.
  • Hire a bartender instead of having an employee pour drinks.
  • Distribute a limited number of drink tickets to each employee. To avoid employees passing their tickets to coworkers, ask the bartender to stamp each employee's hand for each drink served. 
  • Offer a cash bar.  People drink less when they are paying for their own drinks. 
  • Limit the time the bar is open. For example, host a cocktail hour, but close the bar during the meal.
  • Provide a snack buffet at the end of an evening event with substantial snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Observe employees to ensure no one who is impaired will be driving.
  • Provide or cover the cost of transportation for individuals who are impaired (i.e. taxi, Uber, Lyft, etc.).

This holiday season, the foregoing can be implemented to prevent over consumption of alcohol and reduce impaired driving. However, on an on-going basis, it is advisable to have in place a broader approach as part of your company’s culture. For example, your company's Code of Conduct and Alcohol and Drug Policies can provide guidance on appropriate alcohol usage at company-related events year-round.


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