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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Relaxed Liquor Laws Go Into Effect in Utah

As of July 1, Utah liquor laws have become more "normal" and the state's notorious private club system has been abolished. Under the old system People had to buy a private club membership before they could drink hard liquor in a bar or pub. Now the bars are open to everyone of legal age, no membership required.

The Washington Times has this article about the changes.

Utah made history this year by eliminating its 40-year-old private-club system, which required would-be drinkers to purchase a membership. The move is expected to boost tourism and convention business as word of the state's less-restrictive laws spreads to other states.

In exchange for the move, the state Legislature tightened DUI laws and required bars to scan the driver's licenses of anyone who appears younger than 35.

The legislature agreed to tear down the so-called "Zion Curtain," the glass partition that separated bartenders from customers in a setup similar to all-night gas stations and convenience stores. The move allows bartenders to serve their patrons directly over the bar, instead of having to walk around the partition.

More significantly, lawmakers ended the system that classified hard-liquor bars as clubs that could only serve members, requiring customers to fill out an application and pay a small fee before they could be served. Still, certain features of the law gave savvy Utahns ways to work around it.

Local papers have published numerous articles on the subject. Below are excerpts from this Salt Lake Tribune editorial.

Independence Day came early this year for people who enjoy tipping a few with friends without being subjected to oppressive regulations. Starting today, state Senate Bill 187 takes effect, and residents and visitors of legal age can walk into a Utah club and order an alcoholic beverage without first buying a membership. And so ends one of the most onerous restrictions on legal libations in the state since Prohibition.

Of course, there were trade-offs required to satiate the unfounded fears of legislative teetotalers who believed club memberships curbed underage drinking. So expect to have your driver license scanned if you appear to be under 35 years of age. But make no mistake, this is a landmark occasion, and, hopefully, just the beginning of expansive liquor law reforms.


  • At 3:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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