DUI 01

In a massive alcohol control bill introduced Tuesday, are a few lines that say an arresting DUI officer must ask the offender where he/she got the alcohol which made them legally drunk -- and report the source.

Rep. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, says almost all of the huge HB399 is the annual “alcohol law” technical clean-up bill, although he says it is a bit odd to call a 4,212 line bill a “clean-up” -- it is so far-reaching and comprehensive.

And while on the current DUI form is a place for the arresting officer to detail where the driver got the alcohol, now it will be the law and records collated and examined.

“We want, in a broad picture, to see where the problem” of DUI is originating -- that is, where did the offender get the alcohol.

Even if he got drunk on beer at his brother-in-law’s house?

“Yes.” But the person who provided the alcohol would carry no more liability under the new bill than under current law.

Historically, said Hawkes, there is no liability unless there is an accident and an injury -- just like the current Dram-Shot law holds liability for the bar/restaurant operator that served too much alcohol to a patron, and that person then drove drunk and injured another.

Still, your brother-in-law could end up on an official DUI report, or your neighbors could be listed by a youngster who got drunk at a party where the parents were away, and their liquor got a DUI arrestee drunk.

Hawkes -- who is the House’s official “alcohol designee” for running such “clean-up” bills -- said he got interested in where the DUI person got his alcohol after an incident in Salt Lake City where a mother and child were hit in a crosswalk, the child killed and the mother seriously injured. And on the official report of the offending driver he said he had had a “few beers” before he drove drunk -- but didn’t say where that was.

“Where did he get the alcohol? We want to know, to follow back to the source and see” if there is an offending bar that regularly serves drunk patrons or some offending reoccurring source, said Hawkes.

There is another part of the bill that will require that beer sold in grocery stores have on its label what percent is alcohol.

As you may remember, last year lawmakers approved “heavy” beer to be sold in grocery stores. Previously, all beer couldn’t be over 3.2 percent alcohol.

Now there are variations on beer alcohol content, but Hawkes said about a third of all beer brands sold don’t have percent alcohol labeled where the buyer can see.

“It’s a question of consumer protection,” said Hawkes. One would think that the buyer of heavy beer would want to know how much alcohol is in a bottle or can, so they can better understand how much alcohol they are consuming.

The huge bill changes many parts of alcohol law.

Hawkes said overall, the bill maintains the state’s interest in liquor sales -- in some areas, there are more controls, like the beer percentage requirement -- and in other areas, there are changes that just make good sense for those who are licensed to sell liquor in the state.

Just two examples:

-- If you are a hotel or resort operator, and you have a package agency license -- you sell liquor in bottles inside your business -- then you can provide one, small, free bottle of liquor/beer to adults who rent rooms from you, as long as it is in inside the room.

-- If you sell liquor/beer and advertise it, you can’t advertise that your product will help get a person drunk quickly, or that you have a higher-than-normal alcohol content than other competing products -- you can’t say “drink this and get plowed even faster.”