Leaders debate reality, perception of Utah liquor laws

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  • gburns52 Milford, UT
    Aug. 7, 2013 2:03 p.m.

    I did some research about 5 years ago to see if alcohol taxes affected alcohol related accidents. I was surprised to find out that it did not. What I did find out was that there was a direct correlation with tobacco taxes. The higher the tobacco tax the lower the alcohol related accidents, with the exception of Utah which had half the rate of the next lowest state and has an average tax.
    As far as Utah having complicated regulations, it does not. About 1/3 of the states, including Mass. and Nevada, but excluding Utah, let the counties and cities have their own regulations, meaning they have dry or semi-dry counties, etc. Now, that's complicated.
    So, basically it is illegal to have a dry county in Utah and I guess by that reasoning Mass. really didn't legalize adulthood. If a child drinks is he acting like an adult? hmmm

  • Reasonable Person Layton, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    Normalizing Utah's laws isn't going to create more drinks, per person.

    Idaho, full of LDS, allows liquor to be sold in grocery stores.
    One of the busiest liquor stores in Nevada, is in Mesquite (a town full of LDS and not far from LDS-filled St George).

    This isn't LDS against non-LDS. This is about rights, the fact that many LDS *do* drink, and the silliness that creates a "naughty" image that kids can't wait to taste.

  • sjc layton, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    Having moved here from another state years ago, I can tell you that this town is perceived as a backwater, religious zealot kind of place and it's all due to liquor laws.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 5, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    I don't see what the problem is with changing the liquor laws in Restaurants or bars.

    At those establishments, if they are caught selling to minors they are fined and can lose their liquor licnese. That is enough to ensure that they don't sell to minors, so what is the problem with allowing places like Olive Garden to sell wine by the glass, or other restaurants to sell mixed drinks?

    It used to be that the concern was that kids would see it, and be influenced by seeing people drink. I hate to break it to many around here, but kids see people drinking all the time on TV, and in some cartoons.

    Keep the state run liquor stores, but make life easier on the bars and restaurants. If we do, that will only add to the tax revenues from the sale of more alcohol. Where a person may have ordered a $2 soda, they may now order $10 in drinks.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 5, 2013 10:16 a.m.


    Of course you are aware that the original word of wisdom allowed for the use of beer, but advised only against strong drinks(liquor). Even so the early bretheren, including several prophets used it sparingly even after the word of wisdom. Even if you don't use it, why should others that don't share your beliefs be forced to follow them?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    That whole deal with the zion curtain kind of sums up liquor laws here: Pointless micromanaging. It's an answer to a problem that doesn't exist, an assuage to people who don't even drink. It's time to let adults run the place for a while, I think.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Aug. 5, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    Asking somebody who comes into a restaurant if they intend to eat is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard. If they aren't they will just lie and say they are. So it is pointless to ask. What they should do is if the patron doesn't eat, then they can't be served more then 2 drinks. I doubt this would happen very often as restaurant drinks are expensive compared to bar drinks or drinking at home. I bet most normal people go to a restaurant to eat and have a drink.

  • Thefullnancy SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 9:48 a.m.


    I am moving to California, but not to get drunk and be stupid (seriously). I'm going to be an adult, breath better air, get out of the snow and drive in safer traffic than the daily I15 luge run.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    re: trekker 8/4
    The State should not be running a retail business of any king."

    Funny how you capitalize The State but I agree.

    Isn't a state run business socialism?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    One thing I will give you though, is that despite the 21st Amendment saying people have the right to buy alcohol, you recognize that there are ways that it can be regulated and still be constitutional. Now if only you could figure that out for guns...

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    "The only reason that folks say boo about alcohol controls in Utah is Anti-Mormon sentiment. "

    Or they just want a glass of wine or a beer with dinner without being treated like they're either children or trying to obtain a prostitute.

  • Larceny Rural Hall, USA, NC
    Aug. 5, 2013 6:24 a.m.

    I am all for the restrictions, and am glad that Utah makes it as difficult as possible. Let the other 50 states "legalize adulthood" but Utah can stay tough on Alcohol providers and consumers!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:31 p.m.

    Just as an aside, for those who venerate the founders (most of us do), Benjamin Franklin said beer was proof of God's love for man. Moreover, beer was the drink of choice during colonial times. It seems to have gotten us off to a pretty good start.

  • Lightbearer Brigham City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 8:43 p.m.

    "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!...My Christian brother, be kind and benevolent like God, and do not spoil his good work. He made wine to gladden the heart of man ..." - Benjamin Franklin.

    "The almost universal health among the students, was to be ascribed, next to early rising and beef and mutton pies at Commons, to the very moderate use of wine and ardent spirits. When our barrells and bottles in the Cellar were empty, we used to Size it at the Buttery, and I shall never forget, how refreshing and salubrious we found it ..." - John Adams.

    "I rejoice, as a moralist, at the prospect of a reduction of the duties on wine ... It is an error to view a tax on that liquor as merely a tax on the rich. It is a prohibition of its use to the middling class of our citizens ... No nation is drunken where wine is cheap ... Its extended use will carry health and comfort to a much englarged circle" - Thomas Jefferson.

  • rfpeterlin Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 5:23 p.m.

    "Normalize" that is a biased line. Alcohol restrictions are Normal. 50,000 people jumping off a bridge, is it normal to follow? The only reason that folks say boo about alcohol controls in Utah is Anti-Mormon sentiment. Truth be told, there are countless non-Members in Utah that relish the controls. Utah is not dry, and I for one hate having to walk by an open bar when I want to go out for supper.

  • KatFitz27 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 5:15 p.m.

    I give credit for the low levels of alcohol consumption in Utah to the teachings of the Church Laws are irrelevant to believers--laws will neither increase nor decrease consumption. Therefore, enforce laws that directly affect dangerous activities like drinking and driving, and make the rest conform to what other states do. A .05 alcohol level for driving would be a good start. In Scandinavia the tolerance is 0. that is a good direction to go.

  • downunder south jordan, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 4:36 p.m.

    I do not drink alcohol but I have friends who do and it appears that the intent of all liquor laws in Utah is to humiliate people who do drink alcohol. Utah republicans and conservatives insist on less government unless it pertains to any moral law.

  • Debbie G Cedar City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 3:46 p.m.

    Why are we wasting time on this. Leave it as is. Can we get on with more important issues, rather than wasting time and money on this. We don't need to be like everyone else. Why would we want to try. Utah is a great state to live in,let's keep it like that. We make these kind of changes, and it will just hurt us. So leave the law alone.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Aug. 4, 2013 2:54 p.m.

    Liberalized alcohol availability should be accompanied by much more stern penalties for irresponsible use of alcohol. E.g. Drunk driving: $10,000 and 5 years suspension of all driving privileges.

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 2:35 p.m.

    Why anyone in their right mind would want Utah to be like other states is beyond me. If you consider higher underage drinking, higher crime rates, higher domestic violence and more DUI's is "normal", then you've got bigger problems than the Zion curtain.

  • mountainlocal Brooklyn, NY
    Aug. 4, 2013 2:33 p.m.

    I have met people from Europe and East Coast that traveled to Utah, years ago, and were so turned off by the experience that they won't return. I explain to them, that things have progressed. But the damage is already done and their negative association with the product (Utah) means they won't buy it again.

    I think teetotalers assume that drinking is always about an immoral practice or drunken, irresponsible, debauchery. Which, it can be. But it can also just be meeting friends for brunch and preferring a mimosa, rather than a diet coke with lemon. Just like I prefer a Denver omelet to pancakes.

    Most of the comments I'm reading are obviously from people that do not drink or own businesses based in tourism and so the comments lack perspective on the nuances which are unreasonable. I think there is a difference between laws that actually serve a functional purpose and laws that just make people feel good. Was there an explosion of crime after the major private club law changed? Or is life fairly similar?

  • Kelliebelle66 West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    What does normalize mean anyway? Areas in the South make Utah's liquor laws look positively permissive and the LDS church is not even prevalent. People claim that the large amount of LDS people in the state are the reason this is so. Probably. But then you'd have to admit that that is why our cities and our states are fiscally and economically strong and why we have lower crime rates than many states do as well. There is also this mistaken idea that LDS people look down on people who drink. No. I have been in many social situations where perfectly nice people enjoy a glass of wine. In fact, I don't believe it is necessarily a bad thing. But the Word of Wisdom asks us to avoid alcoholic beverages in order to avoid many of the problems that can arise from the misuse of alcohol. In addition I think the church and state need to better educate people about the dangers of prescription painkillers and exactly how they work on the brain. Utah is one of the top problem states when it comes to this type of abuse, as bad a problem as alcohol.

  • small town granny small mining town, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    Utah is different, and isn't it wonderful? How blessed we are, why would we even WANT to be like other states? Utah was founded by brave pioneers who wanted to live according to the dictates of their own consciences.
    If you don't appreciate the wonderful differences we enjoy, why not go where you can be as drunk as you please?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Aug. 4, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    PA has weird alcohol distribution laws. Beer is sold in grocery-type stores only if they have a cafe and separate cash register for beer purchases. All other types of alcohol are sold in state-owned liquor stores. Beer can be bought at "beverage" stores, beer distributors--mostly by the case. If one merely wants to buy a six pack of beer they can go to a bar which may/may not sell 6 packs or to another type of beer store. However, one can go in restaurant-bars or bars and order drinks without extra regulatons.

    Despite the laws in PA, it doesn't have a lower incidence of drunk driving fatalities than surrounding states.

    The lower incidence of drunk driving and associated fatalites/injuries in UT is largely due to the homogenous population, dominated by the LDS Church, not because drinks are hidden behind a "curtain."

    What responsibilty should bars have in making sure their patrons don't exceed the blood alcohol limit?

    In CA at least, someone involved in a drunk-driving accident, either the perpetrator or the victim can sue the establishment where the person got drunk.

  • Utes11 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 4, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    I work in the skiing industry. I constantly talk to people about planning their ski vacations here and they overwhelmingly say, " but aren't the liquor laws too tight there?'. A huge number of people choose to ski in Colorado or New Mexico because they know they can enjoy "apres ski" in those states. That could amount to millions of travel industry dollars, and jobs, that Utah is losing out on! This past season when some of my clients from New York found out they were drinking 3.2 beer they all said, " Well [darn]! We aren't coming back here again!" If you are arguing that normal liquor laws would make us socially irresponsible you are missing the point.We could have "normalcy" and still be responsible with education and enforcement. Trying to legislate morality doesn't work. We know that. Utah is the number one state in the country for pornography addiction! I know several families that drive to Wyoming every month to buy alcohol! That is revenue that is leaving the state every day! If we were "closer to normal" then these amazing mountains would draw in soooo many more families to experience the greatest snow on earth!

  • ThornBirds St.George, Utah
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Perception of Utah?
    Residents may yearn for days of old, and isolation from the big bad world and it's evil ways. An oasis of clean, non drug, happiness is the ideal many have hoped to find in the state of Utah.
    In order to keep Utah in the running for conventions, Olympics, big races, new business, etc., this utopic lifestyle is no longer possible.
    Alcohol does not fit in the historic plan of the state.
    Those who are the strongest, most powerful, influential, most vocal, and wealthiest are the leaders of business and government. They make the majority of the decisions, making the way for change and leading the way.
    Building up their portfolios in order to accrue more wealth continues to be their life's goal.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    "If you do this the church will lose more members to alcoholism."

    Are the LDS Church and its members really so weak and unable to control themselves that the only thing keeping them from getting drunk is civil and criminal law? Does this mean that Mormons in the other 49 states are closet boozers who ignore church teaching because there isn't sufficient criminal liability to rein them in? The fact is, state laws that enforce church teachings tend to create only an appearance of piety in the state. It makes adherence to beliefs superficial since members are required to do it by law without internalizing the doctrines behind those beliefs. It also reduces the support and desire for religious outreach programs when, to the casual observer, everyone in the state is already following church beliefs.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    Why do we need to keep revisiting this issue? The vast majoirity of adults in this state do not drink and underage drinking is the lowest in the nation. Our policies and laws are working. The laws have been bent far enough for those who want to drink. Walk into any grocery store and the aisles are filled with beer. Provo and just about very city in the state now sells beer on Sunday. If anything get the beer out of the grocery stores. Enough is enough. We don't need to cow tow to these private interest groups any longer. I am all for free markets but even they need rules and regulations otherwise we will revert back to being like Tombstone, AZ.

  • Vince Ballard South Ogden, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    Governor Huntsman buried the hatchet between factions on this issue a few years ago. Now some opportunists on one side and zealots on the other have dug it up again. Shame on them.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 4, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    Normalize. I've been in hundreds of restaurants all over this country, and it's obvious to me when I'm in a bar or a restaurant. Restaurateurs are not stupid and they also know the difference. This is one you can leave to the market. At the same time, I'm in favor of the stiffest possible penalties for DUI. Do NOT let these people drive.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    I have to agree with the analysis and position of Mr. Schubach.

    And I have to wonder where all the "conservative" LDS people toss their "keep government out of regulating our lives" when it comes to alcohol? How can you maintain such inconsistent positions and still have any sense of integrity?

  • grip Meridian, ID
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    Utah has has been rated in all ten of the tests of entrepreneurial friendliness and encouragement. The only state to rate in the top ten. Utah is one of the few states without debt. Why? Might it be because of limitation of drinking and, perhaps added to that, gambling is not legalized through a lottery or other types of gambling. State sponsored gambling is a failed policy. Think about it. In areas where gambling is pondered and are permitted by law, the related costs such as addiction treatment, increased crime, family break-up and business losses provoked by employees stealing from their employers to feed a gambling addiction costs between $3 and $6 for every dollar raised by the state via gambling revenue. It may that one addiction feeds the other addiction! Think about it and enjoy your freedom.

  • AZDZRTFOX Hucahuca City, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    Are people really suffering because they can't have an alcoholic beverage at a restaurant? If it's about the alcohol, simply go to a bar and grill establishment.

    What is "normal" when it comes to regulation of alcohol? Each state and even municipalities has its own laws and ordinances regarding the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is the most abuse drug in the world. Tens of thousands of people are killed each year in the USA due to alcohol related incidents, and many more are maimed and injured. States that have more strict alcohol laws should not rationalize and loosen their laws just because other states have less strict laws. People will still get their alcohol in Utah without less strict laws as they have until now.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    Could the fact that we have the lowest underage drinking percentages be because people choose not to drink? Perhaps it's the religious influence in this state, and not the ridiculous laws that we have that "take over the role of parents" in preventing their kids from drinking.

    I find it so ironic that in a state that claims so much to value the right of others to choose, they make these laws that prevent people from doing that. Let's allow adults to be adults. Let's realize that just because I see somebody at the next table enjoying a mixed drink or wine with their meal, it doesn't mean that I will suddenly lose control and have to have one as well. Just because I can see the bar in a restaurant doesn't mean that I will suddenly be compelled to drink. It doesn't work when I see the desserts displayed, why would it for alcohol?

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    People come to Utah because it is different and not "normal," normalizing liquor laws may decrease tourism.

    If we normalize our liquor laws, we should normalize DUI from 0.08 to 0.05 and increase fines and mandatory jail for first offenders. Very strict laws for drunk driving and loose liquor laws are the norm.

    If we are going to go the way of the world, then let's go the whole way and have the same DUI laws as Canada if we are going to match Canadian "normal" liquor laws to make more money. Money should not be the justification to loosen liquor laws.

  • donquixote84721 Cedar City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    What has happened in Salt Lake City, and the rest of Utah, is a microcosm of what is happening in America, as a whole. People come here to escape the horrible life style, in their home Country, City or State, and immediately start trying to change their new home, unto the same life style they escaped from. If Salt Lake City and America did not resist, these people could have stayed home.

  • trekker Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    I do not drink, however, I think Utah needs to close its state liquors stores and let it go privately like other states. Utah's current laws cause anger and resentment toward not only the State but also the LDS church.People forget history, before the prohibition act Utah was home to many distilleries many made Danish beer and yes even church members drank it. The word of wisdom was treated more like an advisory back then. The State should not be running a retail business of any king. I support the rights of other to drink if they want without having to buy it from their government. Stores sell, tobacco and beer. Why not liquor?

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Aug. 4, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    Normalize. It's time to legalize adulthood in Utah. I came to Massachusetts 12 years ago on a 3 week business trip. When I realized they had legalized adulthood I was mesmerized by the feeling be being an adult (49 years old) and not having to look over my shoulder just to have a beer. I looked around the third week I was here and said to myself, I'm never going home. And I didn't.

  • PLM Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    The state government's role is to protect the people of Utah. Providing alcoholic entertainment for tourists is farther down the list. We need to ask what the positive benefits of more access to alcohol for society are: does more alcohol or greater access benefit the people of Utah? Will it increase the safety and well-being of society? Perhaps we should look at the increased cost of law enforcement, especially the issue of drunk driving; ask the highway patrol, and police their opinions. Would more alcohol benefit the children of Utah? Is there a higher risk of addiction and neglect? It seems to me like a small vocal minority is putting the majority at risk. We need to weigh the benefits and detriments. People will always come here to ski and get an adrenaline high - do they need a chemical high as well? With all of the problems in the state, would having more free-flowing alcohol help? Why drink? Let's look at finding ways to solve problems not just drinking to forget.

  • LittleStream Carson City, NV
    Aug. 4, 2013 7:59 a.m.

    This is one compromise that doesn't have to be made. The bar and brewery owners knew the laws when they opened in Utah. If they can't operate under those rules, they can go to a different state.

    If you do this the church will lose more members to alcoholism. That's my prediction.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 7:54 a.m.

    There is not the tiniest bit of evidence that the "Zion Curtain" reduces alcohol consumption. I'm not looking for a vast liberalization of our alcohol laws. It just seems to me that laws like the zion curtain exist only to show drinkers that we don't like them.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    Utah's historic laws on the sale of alcoholic beverages is grounded in the antiquated recommendations found in the "Word of Wisdom." The Utah legislature, filled with LDS members, acts like they are an army fighting against sin. In reality, the army of secular research is winning. For example, coffee is better for you than Mountain Due, and Red Wine is better for you than Hot Chocolate. Utah's Liquor laws make Utah appear like a church controlled state and do little if anything to stop drunk drivers, domestic violence, or other alcohol created problems. Remember, "Stronger than an army is an idea whose time has come."

  • SLC BYU Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    Utah received it's "strict" liquor control laws as a result of then LDS Church President Heber J Grant's displeasure of Utah being the state that ended prohibition in the United States. This mandated that government control wholesale and retail distribution of distilled spirits. I think it's time the other shoe dropped and the state ends even all retail sales of 3.2% beer in any grocery or convenience stores, and let's throw all tobacco products under the exclusive DABC umbrella as well. We need to eliminate all juvenile exposure to these products of sin and rebellion. Go north of the border into Canada and this is the rule as well. It isn't just an LDS vs. a non LDS philosophy, it's social responsibility.

  • dumprake Washington, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 4:38 a.m.

    Utah has it right. Don't change the liquor laws. Alcohol is the number one bad drug in this country...and we should "normalize" the Utah liquor laws? "Be like other states?" No way, if anything toughen the liquor laws. If people want to drink and be stupid, let them go to California.

  • bw00ds Tucson, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2013 1:18 a.m.

    All of the reasons given to relax the laws sound like rationalizing to me.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 1:00 a.m.

    "Alcohol shouldn't drive new business at the expense of public health, Bird said." But alcohol in any form - beer, wine, or hard liquor is good for you if used in moderation. Now if we are worried about public health we should concentrate on tap water which is loaded with lots of bad stuff.

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:45 a.m.

    Leave the laws as is. Don't fix something that ain't broke.

  • ParkCityAggie Park City, Ut
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:41 a.m.

    The free market should decide the bulk of these issues. The fact is No one is going to a restaurant to get drunk. Restaurants tend to charge premium prices for adults beverages, your average social drinker is likely to only have one or two drinks with dinner. Food absorbs alcohol. Allowing restaurants to serve alcohol isn't a public safety issue. If the restaurant has a bar, sure have the patrons order food at least after the firs drink is served. The Zion curtain is a joke. Not even average Utah citizens were asking for it. It was a simple punitive give/get measure that really meant nothing except to punish those restaurants who wish to serve drinks. if you don't want you kids to see a server mixing an adult beverage out in public, take them to Chuckle Cheeses (btw, in most over states, CC serves beer).

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:40 a.m.

    Making alcohol more available just puts more money in the pockets of a few liquor operatives and more people in hospitals, jails, and the morgue.

    The misery to family, friends, and loved ones, and the cost to the rest of us is far beyond the "justifications" of selling it.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 12:16 a.m.

    Can we not increase DUI's and still eliminate all but 10 pages of the 280 pages of liquor laws in Utah? That doesn't include all the rules DABC puts out. I don't want to add DUI's but we don't need to be in the business of retailing alcohol.