Public Intoxication

By January 26, 2016Crime Scene

Public DrinkingEverybody knows (or should) that you cannot drive a car while intoxicated. However, many people are surprised to find that Utah, like most states, places restrictions on where you can drink and how much.

Utah law prohibits you from consuming liquor in a public building, park, stadium, or on a public bus. Further, even if you drank elsewhere, you may not be intoxicated in a public place if you are a danger to yourself or another person, or if you are unreasonably disturbing others. Consuming or having an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle is also prohibited. Additionally, as a general rule, you may not bring alcohol onto the premises of an establishment (e.g.: a restaurant) open to the general public if it is to be consumed on those premises.

There are some exceptions to these laws:

  • First, you may have an open container of alcohol in the trunk of a motor vehicle so long as it is not accessible to the driver or passenger area of the vehicle.
  • Second, you may, with the permission of the proprietor, bring bottled wine into a licensed restaurant or club to be served by the staff of the establishment. This exception does not apply if the establishment does not have a liquor license.
  • Third, you may bring alcoholic beverages and consume them in a limousine or chartered bus under certain restrictions. For example, the driver of a limousine must be separated from the passengers by a partition, and the limousine’s service must begin and end at the passenger’s hotel, temporary domicile, or residence. On a chartered bus, you may consume alcoholic beverages on the way to your destination and on return, only if you are dropped off at your hotel, temporary domicile, or residence at the end of the trip. If you are dropped off at a location where you will likely have to drive to get back to your hotel or home, then alcohol may not be consumed in the chartered bus on the return trip.
  • Note that local city, town or county laws may further restrict consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. For example, a Park City law prohibits drinking beer or liquor, or possessing an open container of such beverages on a public street. A Salt Lake City ordinance says that no person shall open, possess, or consume an alcoholic beverage in a public place such as a street, sidewalk, alley, etc. unless a permit has been issued by the City to allow possession or consumption in the area (i.e. for a special event). These ordinances may be subject to change, so you should contact local officials for the latest updates.

About Robert Avery

Rob is a graduate of the J. Reuben Clark law school at Brigham Young University and practices primarily in criminal defense, general litigation, and general business representation. Rob is a founding partner of the Pacific Legal Group. He is also an adjunct professor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School and an accomplished writer. Rob is married and has four children and three grandchildren.