What New Liquor Laws Mean to You, the Drinker | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

What New Liquor Laws Mean to You, the Drinker 

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Getting a drink in a bar in Utah is now as easy as showing your ID to the bar bouncer. But there are a few things to consider now that you’re free to roam from bar to bar:

Going Out to the Bars? Here’s the Drill
Starting July 1, private clubs are out. However, some clubs may actually keep the status. Otherwise all bars and dining clubs—where sales are 50-50 liquor and food (think The New Yorker)—will be asking all patrons who appear to be 35 or under for their IDs to scan.

There’s been some anxious whispering about who will have access to the personal information stored on the devices—will it end up on some secret state registry of sinners? Chances of that happening are unlikely. The law is simple: Scanners may not store data other than name, age, gender and type of ID cards—and all data must be deleted after seven days.

Most scanners only display the patron’s name and age to bartenders so they can see all the pertinent info they need, quickly check the scanner and then match the ID photo to the mug of the patron who gave it to them. The new law does allow law-enforcement officials to access data regarding criminal investigations, but bar owners will get the smackdown if information is stored or used for promotional mailings or any other use by owners or employees. DABC officials say that bars can expect future audits to include compliance officers checking to make sure clubs are deleting scanned patron data.

If You Overdo It, You Lose
The natural counterbalance to this club liberation will be the hammer of law enforcement. To that end, penalties for drunken driving are tougher. A first-time conviction of driving under the influence will result in the offender having to install $1,500 worth of breathalyzer equipment in his or her car for 18 months. Plus, the offender will lose his or her driver license for 120 days. Minors caught driving under the influence won’t get their licenses back until they turn 21.

Sneaky youths caught trying to pass off fake IDs at a bar will lose their driver licenses for a year. And, if the bar is fined, the bar can sue the kid’s parents to recover half the fine plus the bar’s attorney’s fees.

Dining Behind the Zion Curtain
The “Zion Curtain,” or partitions in restaurants that shield the obscenity of drink preparation from unsuspecting patrons, have come down … sort of. “Any restaurant that had previously any kind of partition that separated service dispensing and storage was allowed to take down that partition,” says Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, of the change that went into affect May 12, 2009. Any restaurant or “dining club” opening after May 12 will not only have to build a partition but will have to hide its drink service and storage from customers.

Bars grandfathered in that get to take down their Zion Curtains are only required to ensure that no minors are seated in the bar area.

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