Alcohol Laws in Utah to Change

Although the repeal of National Prohibition occurred over three-quarters of a century ago, many vestiges of the failed experiment in social engineering continue to remain, Nowhere else is this more obvious than in the state of Utah, home to a large proportion of temperance-oriented residents.

The strange and convoluted alcohol laws in Utah have long been a source of embarrassment to many residents. Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. has called for a change, arguing that the state's image was being hurt by laws that tourists see as being both weird and a serious barrier to consuming any alcohol within the state.

For example, patrons of private clubs, which exist in the Utah as a substitute for bars, are required to fill out applications and pay fees for the right to buy a drink. Under legislation passed by both houses of the Utah state legislature, this will no longer be required.

Assuming the governor signs the legislation, new establishments that sell alcohol will also be required to prepare and mix alcoholic beverages out of the sight of customers. This is to protect anyone, including adults age 18-20, from the sight of alcoholic drink preparation.

The new law will also require private clubs to scan electronically the ID's of all customers who appear to be under the age of 35 and to maintain those records on site for inspection by law enforcement officers. It has been suggested that this requirement is likely to cause more drinking to occur in vehicles and other unsupervised locations and also raises civil liberties concerns.

However, this legislation represents progress toward repeal. Perhaps by the 100th anniversary of the end of National Prohibition, repeal will become a reality in Utah.


  • Duncan H. Cameron. Utah Reforms, Illinois Beverage Guide, 2009, 9(4), 2 & 4.

Filed Under: Legal Issues