Posted on: May 25, 2023

Utah Liquor and Beer Laws: Is Utah a Dry State?

Is Utah Dry State

Many people may wonder whether Utah’s religious influence has resulted in the state being "dry" or having strict laws regulating the consumption of alcohol. While Utah has long been known for its unique liquor and beer legislation, the state has made some recent changes to modernize its beer laws. Since Utah regulations and laws are subject to change over time, it's advisable to periodically examine what is permissible, what is prohibited, and what distinguishes Utah from other places. In this post, we’ll explore Utah's liquor and beer laws in detail and answer the question: is Utah a dry state? 

Does Utah sell alcohol? 

Yes, alcohol can be sold in Utah. However, Utah liquor laws are unique and can confuse visitors and residents alike. It's important to follow the regulations and purchase liquor only from state-run stores to avoid legal issues. 

Utah Alcohol Laws 

Utah's alcohol laws are among the most strict and complex in the U.S., governing the purchase and sale of alcohol within the state. 

According to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, Utah is considered one of the 17 control states, which means that the state possesses a monopoly over the wholesale and/or retail distribution of some or all types of alcoholic beverages. While all these states control sales of spirits, only six, including Utah, control wine. Moreover, Utah is the only state that remains in full retail control of beer higher than 5% ABV. 

Here are some Utah alcohol laws to be aware of: 

  1. In Utah, all wine and spirits must be purchased from state-run liquor stores.
  2. Licensed distilleries are the only exception in Utah as they are permitted to sell their products to consumers directly, even on Sundays, when state-operated liquor stores are closed. 
  3. Unlike wine and spirits, if the alcohol content of beer in Utah is 5.0% ABV or less, it is sold in grocery and convenience stores. 
  4. Bars and restaurants in Utah cannot serve drinks to someone who appears intoxicated. There are also restrictions on the types of drinks that can be served (such as no "happy hour" discounts), and restaurants require customers to order food along with their drinks. 
  5. Utah has some of the strictest DUI (driving under the influence) laws in the country, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.05%. Utah was the first state to lower its statewide blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for driving to 0.08% from the standard 0.10%. Later, it became the first state to further reduce its Utah alcohol percentage limit to 0.05% BAC while driving. This means that even one or two drinks could put someone over the legal limit. 

While Utah drinking laws can be confusing for visitors and residents alike, it is important to understand and follow these laws when in the state to avoid legal trouble. 

Salt Lake City alcohol laws

Salt Lake City is in the state of Utah, and therefore the alcohol laws in the city follow the state's regulations. You can consume drinks in Salt Lake City bars and restaurants, and you can purchase bottles of your favorite liquor at state-run liquor stores. 

However, certain cities may separate laws from what the state allows. Therefore, checking specific city and town regulations is always a good idea. 

Is Utah a dry state? 

No, Utah is not a "dry state" in the traditional sense of the term. In a dry state, the sale and consumption of alcohol are entirely prohibited. Despite Utah’s religious teachings and having the largest population of Latter-day Saints(LSD) in the U.S. (66%), several attempts to make Utah a dry state have failed. 

However, Utah's alcohol laws can be more restrictive than those in other states, and some unique regulations apply within the state. For example, beer with a 5.0% ABV (or 4.0% alcohol by weight) can be sold in grocery and convenience stores, while wine and spirits can only be purchased from state-run liquor stores, which are closed on Sundays and major holidays. 

Nonetheless, there are a few cities in Utah that prohibit the sale of alcohol or only allow it when purchased along with a beverage. These cities are situated within counties in Utah, and the regulations apply solely to these cities. 

So, while alcohol can be purchased and consumed in Utah, visitors and residents should be aware of the state's unique alcohol laws and regulations. 

Can you buy hard alcohol in Utah?

Yes, hard alcohol (liquor) can be purchased in Utah, but only from state-run liquor stores. These stores are the only place where wine and spirits can be sold in Utah, and there are around 50 of them located throughout the state.

However, Utah's liquor stores have limited hours and are closed on Sundays and state and federal holidays. Liquor stores in Utah are open from Monday to Saturday, usually from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, some stores may stay open until 10 p.m. 

Additionally, there are some restrictions on the types of liquor that can be sold in Utah. For example, some high-alcohol content spirits may not be available, and certain liquor brands may only be sold at designated "premium" liquor stores.

Can you buy alcohol on Sunday in Utah?

Yes, you can buy alcohol on Sundays in Utah. 

In Utah, you can purchase beer on any day of the week, including Sundays, from gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores, which are allowed to sell beer during their normal operating hours. However, bars and restaurants can only open at 10 a.m. at the earliest. 

Utah's alcohol laws require state-run liquor stores to be closed on Sundays. However, breweries, wineries, and distilleries can sell any of their products every day of the week, including Sundays. 

What time can you buy beer in Utah? 

In Utah, beer with a 5.0% ABV (or 4.0% alcohol by weight) is sold at grocery and convenience stores and establishments operating under a "beer only" type license, such as taverns, beer bars, and some restaurants, and can be purchased between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. The Utah ABV limit is 5%. Therefore, beer with anything higher than that must be sold in cans or bottles and purchased from a Utah state liquor store or from the brewery itself. 

According to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services (UDABS), restaurants with full-service liquor licenses may serve liquor, wine, flavored malt beverages, and heavy beer from 11:30 a.m. to midnight. Beer is available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.  On weekends, legal holidays, and private parties, alcohol service may begin at 10:30 a.m.  Patrons must dine in the restaurant to be served an alcoholic beverage.

On weekends and legal holidays, restaurants with a limited license are permitted to sell beer from 10:30 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. and on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 a.m., but only when accompanied by food. Beer-only establishments such as taverns, bowling alleys, and ski resorts can sell beer on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

In bars, the following may be served from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.: 

  • Liquor 
  • Wine 
  • Flavored malt beverages 
  • Heavy beer 
  • Beer 

Complete your alcohol safety training today and stay up to date with the alcohol laws in your state.