Bars and the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Services Act


The Utah Alcoholic Beverage Services Act governs the regulation of alcohol sold in bars in Utah. Bars are entities licensed to sell alcohol without the need to sell food, although food must be available for patrons to order. Bars cannot have minors on premise, but do not have to make patrons sit whilst drinking, or maintain any percentage of sales from something other than alcohol.

 Bars must be at least 600 feet (pedestrian walking route) and 200 feet (straight line) from any community location, which in Utah is defined as a church, playground, park, or school. Bar licenses are regulated by population, and usually only one is available per month.

Individuals opening a bar in Utah need to obtain local consent from the municipality where the bar is located, dram shop liability insurance, and undergo background checks for anyone owning more than 20% of the business. All applicants present before the DABS, which determines who gets a license based on clean violation history, the amount of other bars in the same locality, and the length of time the applicant has been waiting on a license.

All managers must undergo in-person training at the DABS; all servers must be Sips/Tips certified by a state-approved entity.

Issues that Utah bars encounter, and which we can help you with, include:

  • Local consent
  • City council presentations
  • DABS applications
  • Lease issues
  • Advertising & “specials”
  • Purchase or sale of the business

Top five FAQs or Did You Knows for Bar Liquor Licensing

  1. For new locations, no variances from churches/schools/parks, even if there are other liquor licenses right next door (600/200 feet)
  2. Manager training never expires; server training expires every three years.
  3. No minors on premises, ever! Not even for private events.
  4. No purchased-ahead alcohol (e.g., wine pairing dinners can only be booked online for food, not alcohol).
  5. Local laws can be stricter than the state’s laws, but not looser!