Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:52 pm

Utah liquor laws raise confusion


Even if it is 5 o’clock somewhere, you are not getting a drink anywhere in Utah before 10 a.m.

Not anything besides a Utah beer, anyhow, and I have been told by many a drinker that the 3.2 percent alcohol content (by weight, 4 percent by volume) is basically water, although probably more calories.

If you are under 21, it is definitely not water and not for you to keep hydrated on the weekend. Even if laws are a little weird, they are not meant to be broken by bored teenagers.

If you want something stronger, you’ll have to wait until 11:30 a.m. to enjoy the good stuff.

Wait, there’s more. If you decide to grab a drink with a few friends and go to the bar at the hip, new Buffalo Wild Wings, you will not see your alcoholic beverage prepared in front of you.

Is that a problem? Go somewhere that applied for its liquor license before May 12, 2009.

Admittedly, this is just restaurants that serve alcohol, but state liquor store hours are about the same.

It’s no surprise that the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is highly influential in Utah government, which partly explains the tighter hold Utah has on alcohol. As far as nationwide age restrictions, the 21-year mark has been a thing since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, via President Ronald Reagan. Before then, when the 26th amendment was ratified in 1971 to lower the voting age to 18, many states started doing the same with the legal drinking age.

Not every state, though. “Blood borders” between state lines were created, and teenagers from states with higher age limits would drive to those with lower limits, drink the night away, and proceed to drive back home. Alcohol-related traffic accidents rose, and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving took notice. 

Even with all states having the same age limit now, there are still little differences in details between borders.

Most Utah natives who are over the age of 21 and drink are used to the strange laws put into place here, but the tourists who come through the state are confused. 

I once had the pleasure of being a server for a lovely family from the Netherlands who were on holiday in America. They stopped in for lunch. The husband ordered a tall draft beer, and his wife wanted a mixed drink that contained primarily rum. I told them as kindly as possible that they had to wait another 35 minutes.

Let’s just say the language barrier was not the problem at this point.

The combination of surprise and confusion on their faces told me they understood me perfectly. I immediately explained that our laws are a bit stranger than what they are probably used to considering cultural differences when it comes to alcohol, and that the legal age limit wasn’t the only difference in America.

All states have the same age cutoff nowadays, but college kids under 21 are still drinking and not getting away with it.

For some reason, Dixie State University has a party school reputation, and it’s due to the amount of underage drinking happening in the community.

Next time you decide to binge drink away the night, ask yourself if you would truly like to wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy and sacrifice your dental hygiene to a bottle of your favorite Southern whiskey.

Please take my advice. The laws in this state might be a little odd, but the limit is not.

Just because a person is old enough to legally call themselves an adult does not mean every adult is mature enough to be able to hold their alcohol.