A toast to Utah

Next door in the Beehive state, they’ve done something remarkable. They’ve adopted new alcohol regulations that bring Utah’s rules into at least the late 20th century.

The Utah Legislature last week adopted the most significant changes to the state’s liquor laws in at least 40 years. Gone as of July 1 will be the state’s private club system, in which every customer had to fill out an application and pay a fee to enter a bar. Also disappearing will be the requirement that limits how customers can obtain alcohol from bartenders at restaurants.

Gov. Jon Huntsman must sign the legislation before it becomes law, but he has pledged to do so.

The old laws are a relic from the days when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints controlled most of the government of Utah. In recent years, the laws have acted as an inconvenience to customers — something first-time visitors often viewed as quaint, but little more than annoyance to others. They did little to prevent alcohol consumption or abuse.

However, the Utah Legislature didn’t just eliminate the inconvenience. In conjunction with easing the old liquor laws, it adopted new, stricter laws for driving under the influence of alcohol. Also, those who operate bars or other establishments that serve liquor will be required to scan the driver’s license of anyone who appears less than 35 years old, in order to ensure they are at least 21 and that their IDs are real.

So raise a glass and offer a toast to Utah. The Legislature did the right thing in getting rid of the antiquated liquor laws.


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