The Senate moved Monday toward beefing up fines for selling alcohol to underage drinkers, along with numerous other tweaks to liquor laws.
It voted 24-1 to pass SB261, and sent it to the House.
Its sponsor, Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said the state has found that undercover youth who attempt to buy alcohol in Utah bars and restaurants are successful about 30 percent of the time.
"This is a failure of the system," he said. "We have to make sure our restaurants get the message. I think they will get the message very quickly" with the bill.
It sets the mandatory minimum fine for selling alcohol to a minor at $2,500 for a first offense; $5,000 and a five-day suspension for the second; and $15,000 and a 14-day suspension for a third offense in an 18-month period.
It would also make several other tweaks to liquor laws, including:
• Adds an attorney to the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute alcohol violations.
• Allows small cities to permit a new bar on the location of an old one without waiting three years.
• Permits liquor and beer "flights," tastings of multiple drinks, often with a theme. They were already allowed for wine.
It is just one of several liquor reform bills making its way through the Legislature.
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