Bill would make a number of minor tweaks to Utah's liquor laws

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A bill moving through the Senate could make it easier to get a liquor license in a small town, adds to prosecution of liquor violations, lowers the price on some fine wine and sets mandatory minimum fines for serving drinks to a minor.

SB261, sponsored by Sen. John Valentine, spans 76 pages and makes a raft of minor tweaks to Utah's liquor laws.

Among other items, the bill would:

• Allow small cities to permit a new bar on the location of an old one without waiting three years;

• Adds an attorney to the Attorney General's Office to prosecute alcohol violations;

• Sets a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 for the first violation of service of alcohol to a minor and $5,000 and a five-day suspension for the second, and a $15,000 and 14-day suspension for the third violation in an 18-month period;

• 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. The measure was approved unanimously by the Senate Business and Labor Committee and goes to the full body for consideration.

— By Robert Gehrke