Drink specials allowed in Utah after lawsuit ends

Posted at 7:04 PM, Aug 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-30 08:42:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A lawsuit over Utah's liquor laws has ended after both sides agreed that daily drink specials can be offered in bars and restaurants.

But whether they can advertise it may spark a new round of litigation.

A federal judge dismissed the Utah Hospitality Association's lawsuit against the state, which claimed the state's liquor laws violated federal anti-trust laws and accused lawmakers of conspiring with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on liquor legislation.

"We wanted to point out the influence that the Mormon church has on liquor laws in the state," said Allen Whittle, the president of the Utah Hospitality Association and owner of Bogey's Social Club in Clearfield. "And we wanted to point out the Utah Hospitality Association has basically been ignored by lawmakers for years."

Both sides stipulated that daily drink specials can be offered in Utah.

"Utah liquor laws have always allowed social clubs to change their prices from one day to the next, so long as they change their menus and otherwise comply with the rest of the law," said Kyle Kaiser, an assistant Utah Attorney General. "No two-for-one drinks, no unlimited drinks, things like that."

In an interview with FOX 13 on Wednesday, Whittle said it was a "win" for drinkers in Utah.

"I believe this is a win for the Utah Hospitality Association, the licensees of the state and the social drinkers of Utah," he said.

But bars and restaurants cannot advertise that drink specials are, in fact, drink specials. They can offer "Margarita Tuesdays" and "Two Dollar Drafts," but Whittle said they cannot explicitly say that it is a "drink special." "Happy Hours" are also not allowed under Utah law, Whittle said.

The lack of advertising could spark a new round of litigation.

"We believe it infringes on advertising and freedom of speech issues," Whittle told FOX 13.