This weekend is one of celebration as friends and family gather to enjoy fireworks, food and fun. Utahans will be celebrating the holiday like many other people, but the citizens of the state have a little more to be joyful over this year.
Forty years ago, the state passed a private club law, requiring people to have a membership to a bar in order to buy alcohol. The membership was designed with help from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to limit alcohol consumption and could cost anywhere between $20 and $40 a year.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. convinced the Utah Legislature to repeal the private club law because it negatively affected tourism, which brings in about $7 billion a year.
Although lawmakers repealed the law, Utah DUI laws were toughened, requiring bars to scanning driver licenses’ of patrons who are under 35 years old and keeping the records for the week.
Senate President Michael Waddoups said the number of DUI arrests or DUI accidents will be monitored to see if the law has a negative affect.
“Obviously my biggest concern is the safety of our citizens, our families, the drivers on the roads,” he told the press, but there are new tools for law enforcement to crack down on DUI, which could leave the state “better off than we were before, so I’m willing to give it a try.”
For now, Utahans are organizing barcrawls in downtown Salt Lake City to celebrate their “newfound freedom.”