Alcohol laws of Utah

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Location of Utah

The alcohol laws of Utah regulate the selling and purchasing of alcohol in the United States state of Utah and are some of the most restrictive in the United States.[1] A person must be 21 years old to buy or consume alcohol.[2] The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) has regulated the sale of alcoholic beverages since 1935, two years after the end of prohibition.[3] Utah is one of 18 control states, meaning the state has a monopoly over the wholesaling and/or retailing of some or all categories of alcoholic beverages.[4]

Current Utah law sets a limit of 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (4 percent by volume) in beer sold at grocery and convenience stores and at establishments operating under a "beer only" type license, such as taverns, beer bars and some restaurants.[5] Beer over 3.2 percent by weight (4 percent by volume) is available in State Liquor Stores and Package Agencies and at clubs and restaurants licensed to sell liquor.[2][5] In commercial facilities, the time at which alcohol may be served is limited, and alcohol may not be sold any later than 1 am under any circumstance.[2]


See also: Word of Wisdom

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which a majority of Utahns belong,[6] prohibits the consumption of alcohol for its members[7] in the Word of Wisdom given in the Doctrine and Covenants.[8] Because of this traditional LDS teaching and the large population of Latter-day Saints in Utah, the alcohol laws of Utah have generally been strict.[5]

2002 Winter Olympic Games[edit]

During the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) relaxed enforcement of Utah's alcohol laws. This led to the passing of less restrictive laws effected in May 2003.[9] This came after complaints, particularly after an incident in which an International Olympic Committee official complained.[10]

2009 efforts for reform[edit]

Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. (in office 2005–2009), a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the predominant religion in the state), was a proponent for less restrictive alcohol laws during his time in office. He believed reform would be favorable to the state's tourism industry.[11][12]

Effective in June 2009, bars and clubs were no longer required to charge a cover, or a membership fee, making liquor more accessible to tourists and locals.[citation needed]

Even though homebrewing of beer and wine had been popular for many years in Utah, with multiple retail and even wholesale outlets for purchasing supplies, and ingredients, there was no law forbidding it or allowing it on the books. In March 2009, homebrewing for the citizens of the state was made legal.[13]

Current Utah laws[edit]

As of November, 2011, restaurants and clubs are prohibited from serving beer until 10:00 am and not after 1:00 am.UDAB Utah State Senator John L. Valentine is introducing a bill that will allow each chain restaurant that enters Utah to obtain a "master" license for all of their locations, instead of having to apply for a liquor license at each individual location. This is hoped to speed up the process of obtaining liquor licenses when otherwise there are many locations of the same restaurant applying for a single license every month.[14]

On March 8, 2013, the Utah legislature passed a law allowing restaurant patrons to order alcohol before ordering food after a controversial series of citations was issued to several restaurants.[15]

Public opinion[edit]

According to a survey conducted by the LDS sponsored media outlet Deseret News in 2005, the majority of Utahns support the current alcohol laws. 70 percent support the current 3.2 percent alcohol limit, and one third believe the laws are too restrictive.[16] More recently, however, a poll through found 62 percent of Utahns are in favor of removing the requirement that new restaurants install Zion curtains to hide the preparation of alcoholic beverages from consumers. 31 percent oppose such a change.[17]


  1. ^ Hampson, Rick (September 21, 2011). "Stiff penalites for stiff drinks: Utah tightens liquor laws". USA Today. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Liquor Laws Affecting Residents and Visitors. Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Accessed February 2, 2009.
  3. ^ About DABC. Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Accessed February 2, 2009.
  4. ^ Lythgoe, Dennis (March 21–22, 1991). "Confused about Utah's liquor laws? Here's a timely explanation". Deseret News. Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Chang, Vanessa (January 25, 2009). "Brew Pubs Gain an Unlikely Following in Utah". NYT. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (November 20, 2008). "Records: Percentage of Mormons in Utah declines". AZ Central. Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ Hinckley, Gordon B. "The Body Is Sacred". New Era (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), November 2006, pp. 2–5. Accessed February 10, 2009.
  8. ^ "The Doctrine and Covenants: Section 89". 
  9. ^ Kerig, Bill (October 29, 2003). "What's up with Utah's liquor laws?". USA Today. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  10. ^ Olympics Dry As A Bone. CBS News. Accessed February 10, 2009.
  11. ^ Bernick Jr., Bob; Lisa Riley Roche (February 1, 2009). "Hughes charging into the fray for Huntsman liquor bill". Deseret News. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  12. ^ Pyrah, Joe (January 25, 2009). "Taxes, liquor laws on the docket for 2009 Legislature". Daily Herald. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Utah legalizes homebrewing". Wikinews. March 29, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2009. 
  14. ^ Imbibing up big in Utah, which may mean more liquor licenses. House, Dawn. Salt Lake Tribune. 1 Nov 2012. Accessed 7 Nov 2012.
  15. ^ Utah diners may sip alcohol before ordering food. Davidson, Lee. Salt Lake Tribune. 8 Mar 2013.
  16. ^ Spangler, Jerry (December 8, 2005). "Utahns don't support looser state liquor laws, group says". Deseret News. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  17. ^ Schott, Brian. "Exclusive Poll: 62% of Utahns Want to Get Rid of the 'Zion Curtain'". Retrieved 11 November 2014.