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Getting Around in Utah

Utah's Liquor Laws

One of Utah's claims to fame is the unique way we deal with this form of refreshment. Although it may seem like you can't get a drink in Utah, you really can, it just takes a little more effort. Here are some of the rules and terminology to help you figure it all out.

Not every restaurant serves liquor, and even if they do, they are not supposed to suggest an alcoholic beverage, you have to ask for it.

A person must be at least 21 to purchase and consume alcohol in Utah. No one younger than 21 can be in a beer tavern, but minors can sit at the same restaurant table with adults who are drinking alcoholic beverages.

With the exception of fine wines, so-called "brown bagging" is no longer legal in Utah. That means diners cannot take their own liquor into a restaurant. This also means it is illegal to bring your own cooler of beer onto a golf course or ball field.

Remember that Salt Lake City is 4,500 ft. above sea level, and even higher at the ski areas. Please consume cautiously as alcohol has more of an effect at these higher altitudes. Before drinking, you may want to consider Utah's stringent DUI laws so you can make plans for a designated driver ahead of time.

Drinking In

    The Rules
    • Beer containing 3.2% alcohol content may be purchased seven days a week in grocery and convenience stores.
    • Liquor, wine and full-strength beer must be bought through a state-owned liquor store.
    The Stores
    • State Liquor Stores
      Open daily except Sundays and state and federal holidays. Credit cards and checks accepted.
    • Wine Stores
      Salt Lake Area
      1863 E. 7000 South; 942-6234
      255 S. 300 East; 533-6444

Drinking Out

  • Beer Bars and Taverns
    These establishments do not require memberships and may or may not have food. The maximum alcohol content for beer sold in these venues is 3.2 percent by weight.
  • Brew Pubs
    Fresh beer is served here because it is brewed on the premises, they can also serve wine coolers.
  • Lounges
    Lounges such as the one at the Salt Lake Airport can served beer, wine, or mixed drinks with or without food (like a private club, but no membership is required)
  • Private Clubs
    Mixed drinks (a maximum of 2.75% alcohol, and if you request a double, the second shot will be brought separately for you to mix yourself) may be purchased with or without a meal in Utah's non-exclusive private clubs from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. Visitors are always welcome and may purchase a 2-week membership for a very nominal fee, which entitles the visitor to host up to five guests. Another option is to find a member to host you. Full-fledged members can host an unlimited number of guests, and an annual membership is about $15-$20. Members can no longer host strangers.
  • Restaurants
    Alcoholic beverages are served with your meal in most fine restaurants and hotels from noon until midnight. Ask your server for a liquor menu and/or beer or wine list. Utah has a a broad range of restaurants with a liquor license, most of which are in the Salt Lake and Park City areas.

DUI Penalties
It is against the law in Utah to drive a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or more. That is about one or two drinks per hour depending on your size.

  • Automatic confiscation of driver's license
  • Car impounded
  • Criminal charges levied, arrested, incarcerated
  • Driver's license revoked. If under 21, it will not be reinstated until 21st birthday

Here are a couple more links to follow for some informative and some funny accounts:

  • Beer and Tavern Reviews
    From Gregg Smith
  • The History of Alcohol Prohibition
  • Backroads of Utah
    by Theresa A. Husarik

    In stores now.