Lawmakers Pass Several Alcohol Bills In 2017, Gov. Herbert Hints He Will Sign Them

Mar 10, 2017

Utah’s general legislative session ended midnight Thursday. During the past 45 days, lawmakers passed several bills dealing with serving and consuming alcoholic beverages. 

A day after passing a large bill reforming Utah’s alcohol laws, lawmakers introduced one final piece of legislation to fix what they called an inadvertent mistake.

Rep. Brad Wilson said it would fix an issue with distancing requirements between restaurants serving alcohol and community locations such as parks, schools and churches. Under the new bill, an existing establishment serving alcohol would not be forced to move if a new school or church opened nearby.  

“We wanted to make sure they didn’t lose their license,” Wilson said on the House floor Thursday night.

It passed both chambers, and was the last of several bills dealing with alcohol and driving under the influence to pass during the legislative session. Under the largest bill, HB442, restaurants must institute a way to separate the bar from areas where minors can sit. It will also slightly increase markup on alcohol sales by an additional two percent.

Two other bills passed by the legislature would lower the legal blood alcohol content from .08 to .05 and ensure jail time for repeat DUI offenders. Governor Gary Herbert has said he would sign the bill to lower the legal limit. 

“What it says to the motoring public is, ‘If you drink, don’t drive, and if you’re impaired, don’t get behind the wheel. Think twice about that. ’”

Herbert praised the comprehensive alcohol reform legislation, saying it will do more to educate young people about dangers associated with underage drinking.

But some lawmakers who opposed the alcohol bills maintain they could hurt business and perpetuate negative stereotypes about Utah.