Report Shows Lower Rate of Alcohol Abuse Problems in Utah

Feb 7, 2014

  A report done for the Utah legislature shows the social problems associated with alcohol are decreasing.  But the legislator behind the report says it would be hard to justify changes in Utah’s liquor laws based just on the report’s findings.

Republican Representative Ryan Wilcox of Ogden sponsored the bill authorizing the study two years ago, but he says the report arrived too late to make much difference in the current session.  And while it shows Utah has lower rates of drunk driving and binge drinking than some other states, Wilcox says the issue is complex.

“Yes, we have the lowest DUI rate in the nation," Wilcox told reporters, "but there are other studies that would indicate that our drinkers are the worst drinkers in the nation.  So, are we really doing as well as we think we’re doing when you compare states in that light.”

The study doesn’t address the question of whether the so-called “Zion Curtain” – the requirement that restaurants mix drinks where customers can’t see them – helps to prevent underage drinking.  But Wilcox is sponsoring a bill to eliminate it anyway.  His legislation would also require the agencies producing the annual alcohol abuse study to get their work done well in advance of future legislative sessions.