OUR ORIGIN & PURPOSE
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services has been in existence since 1935. In that year, the Utah State Legislature created the department by statute and charged it with the responsibility of conducting, licensing and regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages in a manner and at prices which reasonably satisfy the public demand and protect the public interest, including the rights of citizens who do not wish to be involved with alcoholic beverages. The legislature also mandated that the department be operated as a public business using sound management principles and practices.
Two years earlier, the ratification of the Twenty First Amendment not only ended national prohibition, but it also gave individual states the right to choose their own system of controlling and distributing alcoholic beverages. The Utah legislature at that time believed that the state, rather than private enterprise, should control sales.
The purpose of control is to make liquor available to those adults who choose to drink responsibly - but not to promote the sale of liquor. By keeping liquor out of the private marketplace, no economic incentives are created to maximize sales, open more liquor stores or sell to underage persons. Instead, all policy incentives to promote moderation and to enforce existing liquor laws is enhanced.
Utah's system of controlling the sale of alcoholic beverages is not as unique as most people believe. There are 18 states and one county in Maryland which control the sale of alcoholic beverages at either the wholesale or retail level. These jurisdictions account for nearly 1/3 of the nation's population. These states share a common purpose - to promote moderation in the consumption of alcoholic beverages and to discourage excess and abuse.
The department operates state liquor and wine stores throughout Utah. The department also oversees privately owned 'package agencies' that operate as liquor stores, under contract with the state of Utah, in otherwise underserved areas such as in rural communities. State liquor stores and package agencies sell all alcoholic beverages, except beer and some hard seltzers containing less than 5% alcohol by volume (which are sold in grocery and convenience stores). By state statute, the total number of stores is tied to the state population, one store permitted for every 48,000 citizens. The department also administers the liquor laws, alcohol education, and regulates the sale, service, storage, manufacture, distribution, and consumption of alcoholic products.
DABS: A SERVICE-FIRST DEPARTMENT
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services launched its new name and new mission in June 2022. The name drops the word "control," replacing it with "services." While Utah remains an alcohol control state, the new name appropriately reflects the service-focused nature of the department. The new working mission statement is a complement to the longstanding mission statement defined in Utah state statute.
The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services oversees the sale and distribution of alcoholic products in the state of Utah. The department proudly serves all Utahns, whether or not they choose to drink alcohol. We recognize our important role in the community in which we financially support crucial government services, support local businesses and tourism, and prioritize alcohol prevention education for the health and safety of all Utahns. We honor our statutory and legal obligations and value our duty as public servants, working for all Utahns.