Utah Dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control
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DEPARTMENT OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL

Liquor Laws

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the legal drinking age in Utah?

You must be at least 21 years of age to purchase, possess, or be provided with any alcoholic beverage. Acceptable forms of identification include: a valid passport, a valid U.S. driver's license or military identification card with a date of birth and a photo, or an official U.S. state issued identification card.

Where can I buy packaged alcoholic beverage products to go?

Packaged liquor, wine, and heavy beer (over 3.2%) are available in full service state liquor stores located throughout the state. Utah also offers a world class wine selection at three specialty wine stores located at: 255 South 300 East, 1863 East 7000 South, and 280 W Harris Ave in Salt Lake City. There are also more than 100 package agencies that offer a more modest selection of these products. Many hotels and resorts have package agencies to accommodate their guests through room service. For a complete list of all store and package agency locations CLICK HERE.

Beer (defined as 3.2% alcohol by weight or 4% by volume) is available bottles or cans and may be purchased to go at most grocery and convenience stores in Utah.

Where can I buy a cocktail, a glass of wine, or a beer in Utah?

Alcohol beverages are available throughout the state for on premise consumption in licensed restaurants, bars, taverns, recreational facilities, banquet facilities, reception centers, and airport lounges. Patrons may order liquor by the drink, wine by the glass or bottle, and beer in bottles, cans and on draft depending on their license type.

Restaurants:

  • Beer Only Restaurants may sell beer (defined as 3.2% alcohol by weight or 4% by volume).
  • Limited service Restaurants may sell wine, heavy beer and beer.
  • Full Service Restaurants may sell all alcohol beverage types including liquor, wine, flavored malt beverages, and heavy beer and beer.

All licensed restaurants may serve from 11:30 AM to midnight or beer (3.2%) from 11:30 AM to 1:00 AM. On Saturday and Sunday and legal holidays, beverage service may begin at 10:30 AM. Patrons must be dining in the restaurant with a food purchase in order to be served an alcoholic beverage. All alcohol must it must be delivered and consumed where the patron is seated at a table, counter or bar. Only adults (21 years and older) are allowed in the bar area of a restaurant.

Bars (Including Equity or Fraternal Clubs):

A "bar establishment" is a type of liquor license for "adult only" social drinking, i.e. bars, nightclubs, cabarets etc. Other types of bars licenses may be located in equity and/or fraternal clubs which require memberships. State law prohibits minors on the premises of the lounge or bar area of any fraternal or equity club, and are never allowed in a bar or nightclub. Alcohol beverage service in a bar does not require that you order food, though food must be available. Bars may sell all types of alcohol - liquor, wine, flavored malt beverages, heavy beer, and beer may be served from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Taverns:

Like bars, taverns are for "adult only" social drinking and minors on the premises are never allowed. The difference between a bar and a tavern is its license only allows for the sale of 3/2% beer. Alcohol beverage service in a tavern does not require that you order food and beer may be served from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Recreational Facilities:

Beer may also be purchased in many places that have a "beer only" type license such as Bowling Centers, Golf Courses, Sports facilities, Concert Venues etc. Beer service in "beer only" recreational establishments is available from 10:00 AM to 1:00 AM. There is no food requirement, but most have food available.

Banquet and Reception Centers

The banquet license allows the storage, sale, service, and consumption of liquor, wine, flavored malt beverages, heavy beer, and beer for contracted banquet activities on the premises of a hotel, resort facility, sports center, or convention center. It also allows for room service in hotels and resorts. Alcoholic beverages may be sold on any day from 10 AM until 1:00 AM.

A reception center license allows the storage, sale, service, and consumption of liquor, wine, heavy beer, and beer for banquet and event functions on the premises of small banquet and event venues that want to sell, offer for sale, or furnish alcohol on their premises. Alcoholic beverages may be sold on any day from 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM.

Airport Lounges

Liquor, wine, flavored malt beverages, heavy beer, and beer may be served from 8:00 a.m. until 12 midnight in an Airport Lounge. Alcoholic beverages may be sold with or without food, and patrons may be served at a bar or table. Airport lounges are only located at the Salt Lake International Airport.

Permitted Events

Temporary beer and Single Event organizers may obtain a permit where alcohol can be sold on the premises of a large event venue or small event venue. Local laws and state laws and rules as listed in the permit will govern sales and event times, not to exceed 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM.

Are there restrictions on consuming alcoholic beverages in public places?

Yes!  State law prohibits consuming liquor in a public building, park, stadium, or on a public bus.  A person may not be intoxicated in a public place to a degree as to endanger themselves or another, or unreasonably disturb others. Also, a person may not bring an alcoholic beverage onto the premises of an establishment open to the general public if it is to be consumed on the premises. Consuming or having an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle is prohibited.

There are some exceptions to these state laws:

  • First, you may have an open container of alcohol in the trunk of a motor vehicle so long as it is not accessible to the driver or passenger area of the vehicle.
  • Second, you may, with the permission of the proprietor, bring bottled wine into a licensed restaurant or club to be served by the staff of the establishment. This exception does not apply if the establishment does not have a liquor license.
  • Third, you may bring alcoholic beverages and consume them in a limousine or chartered bus under certain restrictions. For example, the driver of a limousine must be separated from the passengers by a partition, and the limousine's service must begin and end at the passenger's hotel, temporary domicile, or residence. On a chartered bus, you may consume alcoholic beverages on the way to your destination and on return, only if you are dropped off at your hotel, temporary domicile, or residence at the end of the trip. If you are dropped off at a location where you will likely have to drive to get back to your hotel or home, then alcohol may not be consumed in the chartered bus on the return trip.
  • Note that local city, town or county laws may further restrict consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. For example, a Park City law prohibits drinking beer or liquor, or possessing an open container of such beverages on a public street. A Salt Lake City ordinance says that no person shall open, possess, or consume an alcoholic beverage in a public place such as a street, sidewalk, alley, etc. unless a permit has been issued by the City to allow possession or consumption in the area (i.e. for a special event). These ordinances may be subject to change, so you should contact local officials for the latest updates.

Who enforces the alcoholic beverage laws in Utah?

These laws are enforced by the state's Department of Public Safety and by law enforcement agencies of local jurisdictions such as city police departments or county sheriff offices. These agencies have the authority to confiscate alcohol, issue citations, close events, and pursue criminal charges against those found to be in violation of Utah's laws.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) is not a law enforcement agency. It is primarily a retailer of alcohol through its state liquor stores and package agencies. It also issues licenses and permits to restaurants, clubs, and beer establishments, and organizers of temporary events. Even though the DABC is not a police agency, it is an excellent resource if you have questions concerning Utah's alcoholic beverage laws.

May I bring alcoholic beverages into Utah?

No!  Under Utah law "alcoholic beverages" includes all hard liquor, spirits, wine and beer. Beer and other malt beverage products that exceed 3.2% alcohol by weight or 4.0% by volume are considered "liquor", and beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less is defined as "beer". Utah is a "control state", and only the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) may lawfully have liquor products imported and shipped into Utah. Private individuals may not lawfully import or transport them into the state. Manufacturers and suppliers of these products may only supply them to the DABC. Only the DABC through its state liquor stores, package agencies, licensees and permittees may sell liquor products in Utah. Possession of liquor products not purchased from the DABC is strictly prohibited. Also, licensed restaurants and clubs cannot allow patrons to bring wines onto the premises if they were not purchased in Utah. Other Utah laws prohibit the unlawful importation of beer products into Utah.

There are very few exceptions to these laws. A person coming from a foreign country who clears U.S. customs in Utah may possess, for personal consumption, two liters of liquor purchased outside of Utah. Also, a person who moves his permanent residence to Utah or maintains separate residences both in and out of Utah, may possess for personal consumption, and not for sale or resale, liquor purchased outside of Utah. However, the person must first obtain DABC approval prior to moving to Utah; and upon the arrival of the product, the DABC will charge a nominal handling fee. A person may not obtain approval from the DABC under this exception more than once. A person may possess for personal consumption, and not for sale or resale, liquor inherited as part of an estate that is located outside the state and brought it into Utah, after obtaining the approval from the DABC and paying the required administrative handling fee.

Finally, accredited foreign diplomatic missions that establish a mission presence in Utah may ship, possess and purchase alcoholic beverages under certain exceptions granted under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

Unless one of these exceptions applies, it is clear you may not bring alcoholic beverages into Utah for any purpose whether it is for personal consumption, to serve at a private social function, or to give or sell to others.

May our organization include alcoholic beverages in our shipping containers, and have them shipped to Utah?

No! It is illegal for anyone other than the DABC to ship alcoholic beverages into Utah.
>>More information on privately hosted events hosted by accredited foreign diplomatic missions.

Our organization already owns alcoholic beverages. May we bring them into Utah if we are willing to pay the additional mark-up and taxes?

No! Utah law requires that all alcoholic beverages be purchased from the state through one of its authorized outlets.

May an alcoholic beverage company that is sponsoring an organization or event donate its alcoholic beverage products for use in Utah?

No! Utah law prohibits a member of the alcoholic beverage industry from:

  • Giving away any of its alcoholic products to any person
  • Serving its products as part of a promotion of its products at a private social event
  • Offering its products to the general public without charge; or
  • Contributing to a civic or community event if the contribution is given to influence a retailer in the selection of alcoholic beverage products sold at the activity or event. The sponsor may donate money to your organization, and hope that you buy their products. But the sponsor cannot buy the products for your organization, or condition its donation on you buying its products

How can I get the wines or liquor that I want to serve in Utah during an event?

Utah's state liquor and wine stores have excellent selections of wines, spirits, and full-strength beers. The DABC keeps the stores well-stocked. However, if you want a product that DABC does not normally carry, or that is rare and somewhat difficult to obtain, you may special order it in advance. The DABC will accommodate your needs by ordering a product from any source that can legally sell it to them. Foreign products must be available through a U.S. importer.

A wide variety of beers (3.2% alcohol), including some from local micro-breweries, are available in most grocery stores in Utah.

May I furnish, sell and serve alcoholic beverages to my own guests at group events? If so, what kind of permits will I need?

Yes!  You and your guests can be accommodated several ways.

  • Single event permits

If you want to sell liquor (distilled spirits, wine, flavored malt beverages, and full-strength beer) at your event (i.e. a "cash bar", or alcohol "included in the price of admission" situations), or your event will be open to the general public, you must obtain a state single event permit from the DABC. There are some limitations associated with these permits:

  • Permits need to be applied for at least 30 days prior to your event, and must have local consent and permits from the local jurisdiction where the event is being held prior to applying to DABC.
  • Permits are only available to bona fide corporations, partnerships, limited liability corporations, incorporated associations, churches, and political organizations that have been in existence for at least one year prior to the date of application. They are also available to recognized subordinate lodges, chapters, or other local units of these entities.
  • Qualifying organizations may apply for a permit type that allows either:
    • Up to 4 permits per calendar year for a time period that that does not exceed 120 consecutive hours (5 days) for each permit; or
    • Up to 12 permits per calendar year for a time period that does not exceed 72 consecutive hours each (3 days) for each permit.
  • Each permit costs $125.00 and you must submit a $1000 cash bond, or surety bond in the amount of $1000.00 for the duration of the event.
  • >>More information on Single Events

  • Temporary special event beer permits
    • If you only want to sell beer at your event, you will need a state temporary special event beer permit. Temporary event permits for the sale of beer (3.2%) are issued by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission for on-premise consumption at a temporary event that does not last longer than 30 days. Application must be made at least 30 days prior to your event, and must have local consent and permits from the local jurisdiction where the event is being held prior to applying to DABC.
    • Each permit costs $100, requires you to get the written consent of the local jurisdiction where the event will be held; and that you obtain a $1,000 cash or surety bond in the amount of $1,000.00 for the duration of the event.
    • >>More information on temporary special event beer permits

  • Privately hosted events

If you do not charge your guests for the alcoholic beverages and do not charge for admission to an event where alcohol is provided (i.e. a "hosted bar"), and your event is not open to the general public, then you will not need a permit from the DABC or from a local jurisdiction to serve liquor and beer at your event. State law requires no permit for a "privately hosted event or private social function" which is defined as:

"A specific social, business, or recreational event for which an entire room, area, or hall has been leased or rented, in advance by an identified group, and the event or function is limited in attendance to people who have been specifically designated and their guests." [It] does not include events or functions to which the general public is invited, whether for an admission fee or not."

  • Group events may be held in restaurants or clubs.  If you hold your event on the premises of a licensed restaurant or bar, you have the choice of having the establishment serve your guests alcohol under the restaurant or the bar license, using their alcoholic beverage inventory. Of course, all of the laws relating to alcoholic beverage service in restaurants or bars would apply. Or, you could choose to lease or rent all or a portion of the restaurant or club for the day or night, and then sell liquor and beer you have separately purchased for your group under a single event permit and temporary beer permit. Or you could furnish your alcohol to your guests without charge under the "privately hosted event". Either way, the restaurant or bar will likely charge your group a "set-up" or "corkage fee" for each bottle of alcohol opened on its premises.
  • Group events held in unlicensed locations.  If you lease space at a location that has no alcoholic beverage license, you must either obtain a single event permit or temporary beer permit to sell alcohol to your group, or conduct the event under a "privately hosted event" and furnish the alcohol to your private guests without charge.

If I rent a building under the name of my organization, or my own name, for use as a hospitality house or center, may I serve alcoholic beverages?

Yes!  Again, you may sell liquor and beer under a single event permit issued by the state DABC, or beer under a temporary special event beer permit issued by the local jurisdiction. Or you may furnish alcoholic beverages without charge to your private guests without a permit.

May we operate our hospitality house or center without a permit under a "privately hosted event” if we have a limited guest list, but the house or center is open for the entire day, and our guests may come and go as they please?

Yes, as long as admission is limited to those on your guest list and their guests, and the house or center is not open to the general public.

Can our organization host an event at a private residence without a permit?

Yes, if you comply with the requirements of the "privately hosted event".

If I serve alcoholic beverages under a "privately hosted event” does Utah impose any restrictions on the hours of serving alcoholic beverages?

If the event is held on the premises of retail licensee, no alcoholic beverages are allowed to be consumed after the legal hours of that license type. The State of Utah does not impose any limitation on when alcoholic beverages may be served at privately hosted events in other locations. However, local ordinances may restrict noise levels, etc. after certain hours.

If our group hires a caterer to provide all food and beverages, may we have them obtain the permits and purchase the alcohol for us?

No!  If you choose to sell alcoholic beverages under a single event permit or beer under a temporary beer permit, your organization is responsible for getting your own permit(s). A caterer may assist you in getting the permit, but the caterer may not hold the permit in its own name. Also, caterers in Utah are not licensed or authorized to sell or resell alcoholic beverages. However, a caterer may purchase alcoholic beverages as your group's agent with monies advanced to them by the group.  Certain on-premise caterers at hotels, resorts, convention centers, or sports arenas may hold an on-premise banquet and catering license. If so, alcohol may be provided for contracted banquets under a cash bar, a hosted bar or at a meal function (such as a dinner) where the drinks may be paid for by your guests or you may run a tab for the entire group, and pay for the alcoholic beverages at the end of the function.

May I purchase beer in kegs so that I can serve beer on draft rather than in bottles or cans?

Utah has a keg beer law that prohibits anyone other than a licensed beer retailer from possessing beer (3.2%) in containers larger than two liters. Thus, if you want to serve beer on draft, you will have to obtain a temporary beer permit for the sale and service of beer.

Once you obtain the permit, you may purchase beer in kegs from a local Utah beer wholesaler.  Utah law limits the sale of full strength (heavy) beer to bottles and cans not exceeding one (1) liter. Thus, the State does not stock or sell heavy beer in kegs, and full strength beer may not be dispensed on draft.

Accredited foreign diplomatic missions may possess and dispense their own heavy beer from kegs under certain restrictions.

>>More information on privately hosted events hosted by accredited foreign diplomatic missions.