UTAH (ABC4) – Yesterday, representatives of Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced a grocery list of changes that were made to the organization which went into effect June 1.  

The event, held at The Gateway in Salt Lake City, kicked off with an emphasis on the department’s new name and mission statement. As noted by Tiffany Clason, the organization’s official Director, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is officially the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services (DABS). “This is more than a single word change. It signifies who we are as an agency. We are service-focused. We serve all Utahns, whether they drink alcohol or not,” said Clason.

The department’s new mission statement reads: “The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services oversees the sale and distribution of alcoholic products in the state of Utah. The department proudly serves all Utahns whether or not they chose to drink alcohol. We recognize our important role in the community in which we financially support crucial government services, support local businesses and tourism, and prioritize alcohol prevention education for the health and safety of all Utahns. We honor our statutory legal obligations and value our duty as public servants working for all Utahns.” 

When considering how the DABS serves Utahns who don’t drink, Clason explained, “We serve in the hundreds of millions of dollars that we help generate for the state and local governments, funding services, and programs that every single one of us uses. Things like roads and transportation, police, public health, education, the school lunch program. We serve all Utahns in our role as partners and supporters for the food and beverage industry.” She went on to discuss the department’s role in supporting local tourism, business owners, and community events. 

Next, Clason introduced the key service-focused initiatives the DABS is introducing this year. These include:

  • The department’s new “Starting from a Place of Yes” philosophy: An outlook grounded in supporting local groups and businesses in clearly communicating what is required to operate legally and safely.
  • Click and Collect: A program where customers can make DABS store purchases and then conveniently and safely pick their products up in a nearby store. 
  • Technology and infrastructure improvements to DABS stores and for the compliance office: These updates will make inventory tracking and restocking quicker and easier.
  • Online payments for business owners and other alcohol license holders. Clason notes, “No more just paying by check and money order by mail or hand delivery.” 
  • A new DABS customer service help desk will be established.
  • A new recognition program for bars and restaurants that pass public safety inspections. “We want to acknowledge and show our appreciation for the businesses and their employees that are diligently preventing underage drinking and that are not overserving their customers,” said Clason.

Other liquor law altercations that were not discussed in the DABS public event but have been included in the revised version of S.B. 176 Alcoholic Beverage Control Act Amendments effective June 1 as well as the department’s 2021/2022 Utah Legislature Recap include:  

  • Bar sub-licenses within a hotel or resort license no longer count towards the quota of total allowable bar licenses in the state. This makes nine additional bar licenses, as well as one additional summer or winter seasonal license, available as of June 1.
  • Changes to Utah’s definition of beer to be more inclusive to hard seltzers, giving many hard-seltzers the ability to be sold in grocery or convenience stores while others will no longer be allowed to be sold in these establishments. 
  • The number of 72-hour single vent permits allocated annually was increased from 12 to 24 permits. 
  • Expands the acceptable forms of IDs for buying alcohol products in Utah to all U.S. State Department-issued driver licenses.
  • Hotels that are licensed to sell alcohol can serve in their spa with a required sub-license and a designated serving area. 
  • Updates application requirements (such as clarification on application timeline requirements and acceptable fonts on labels) for alcohol products seeking to be sold in private retail stores.
  • Updates manager training requirements for retail and off-premise licensees to a mandatory alcohol training course to be completed within 30 days of being hired or on the same day that a retail establishment obtains its license to sell alcohol. 
  • Restaurants and bars now have the option to offer beer to-go in sealed containers in amounts that do not exceed two liters. However, if the establishment possesses a restaurant license, customers must have eaten before taking a beer to-go.
  • Creates flexibility for department staff to grant closure for license holders. Department staff now have the ability to grant license holders up to 90 days of closure. 
  • Adjusts timing requirements for DABS staff licensee audits to allow staff members to audit licensees annually, whereas only one audit per licensee was allowed per calendar year before. 
  • Take action against gambling practices by prohibiting gambling machines at “off-premise” businesses and allowing the DABS to take action against the business’s alcohol license if illegal drugs or gambling activities are operating at the location. 
  • Increases the number of resort licenses (ski areas that house amenities such as lodging, bars, and alcohol-serving restaurants) from four to eight. 
  • Instates a wine subscription option between the product vendor and customer where the individual pays the cost of the subscription as well as taxes and fees, and the 88% markup required under Utah law. 
  • Instates a special ordering option with the goal of creating a faster special order process for customers to receive their orders in days rather than weeks, and so that customers can order products in smaller amounts in accordance with the product vendor.