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TN Open Container Law


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Isn’t Tennessee taking a hit on Federal highway funds so that passengers can drink in cars?

Yes....and No.

From debate I watched on a bill last session, TN is actually still getting federal money, it just can't be used for certain things because passengers are still allowed to drink in motor vehicles. If we passed a law that prohibited that, then the federal money could be used for the other purpose. However that would mean one state agency that has been getting the federal money for the last few years would no longer be getting it and probably look to the state to make up the difference.

So the legislature's real purpose about not changing the law you mention is money, not sticking it to the Feds......

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Guest Sgt. Joe

This is why I love this site so much......I end up learning things without even trying.

I no longer drink myself and dont hang with those who do. But I have always thought that TN's open container law was just like the one in FL that forbids ANY open alcohol in a vehicle.

Learning this has no direct effect on me but I guess it is good to know.

You guys on this site are a wealth of knowledge and truly a Blessing.:D

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Yes....and No.

From debate I watched on a bill last session, TN is actually still getting federal money, it just can't be used for certain things because passengers are still allowed to drink in motor vehicles. If we passed a law that prohibited that, then the federal money could be used for the other purpose. However that would mean one state agency that has been getting the federal money for the last few years would no longer be getting it and probably look to the state to make up the difference.

So the legislature's real purpose about not changing the law you mention is money, not sticking it to the Feds......

Sticking it to the Feds? I didn’t think they were trying to stick it to the Feds: I assumed that Tennessee legislators think that allowing open liquor in a car is a good idea.

So the way you understand it is that if the money is allowed to go somewhere else, then whoever it is going to now will want more money, and this will cost taxpayers more; therefore allowing open liquor in cars is a good thing?

:D

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Sticking it to the Feds? I didn’t think they were trying to stick it to the Feds: I assumed that Tennessee legislators think that allowing open liquor in a car is a good idea.

My bad....I sort of misread "States are standing up to the Feds"

So the way you understand it is that if the money is allowed to go somewhere else, then whoever it is going to now will want more money, and this will cost taxpayers more; therefore allowing open liquor in cars is a good thing?

:D

The money thing is right...as I understand it at least. Whether open liquor in a car is good or not....that is a seperate matter. But either way I don't think it is a matter for the Federal Government.

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When did the open container law change in TN? I did not know a passenger could drive. There has been a time or so I ask a person(friend not to drink) while I was driving because I thought it was against the law. In short I did not know it changed.

Could someone post the new law or info about it. I want to know about it.

I will say this, I am against any drinking and driving.

Once I take the first drink, I won't drive. I have my way home planned before I drink.

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When did the open container law change in TN? I did not know a passenger could drive. There has been a time or so I ask a person(friend not to drink) while I was driving because I thought it was against the law. In short I did not know it changed.

Could someone post the new law or info about it. I want to know about it.

I will say this, I am against any drinking and driving.

Once I take the first drink, I won't drive. I have my way home planned before I drink.

Well it hasn't "changed" it's been like this since 1994 at least.

55-10-416. Open container law.

(a) (1) No driver shall consume any alcoholic beverage or beer or possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.

(2)
For purposes of this section:

(A)
“Open container” means any container containing alcoholic beverages or beer, the contents of which are immediately capable of being consumed or the seal of which has been broken;

(
:lol:
An open container is in the possession of the driver when it is not in the possession of any passenger
and is not located in a closed glove compartment, trunk or other nonpassenger area of the vehicle; and

©
A motor vehicle is in operation if its engine is operating, whether or not the motor vehicle is moving.

(B) (1) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by fine only.

(2)
For a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer shall issue a citation in lieu of continued custody, unless the offender refuses to sign and accept the citation, as provided in §
.

© This section shall not be construed to prohibit any municipality, by ordinance, or any county, by resolution, from prohibiting the passengers in a motor vehicle from consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage or beer in an open container during the operation of the vehicle by its driver, or be construed to limit the penalties authorized by law for violation of the ordinance or resolution.

[Acts 1994, ch. 638, § 1.]

http://www.michie.com/tennessee/

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Well it hasn't "changed" it's been like this since 1994 at least.

55-10-416. Open container law.

(a) (1) No driver shall consume any alcoholic beverage or beer or possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.

(2)
For purposes of this section:

(A)
“Open container” means any container containing alcoholic beverages or beer, the contents of which are immediately capable of being consumed or the seal of which has been broken;

(
:lol:
An open container is in the possession of the driver when it is not in the possession of any passenger
and is not located in a closed glove compartment, trunk or other nonpassenger area of the vehicle; and

©
A motor vehicle is in operation if its engine is operating, whether or not the motor vehicle is moving.

(B) (1) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by fine only.

(2)
For a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer shall issue a citation in lieu of continued custody, unless the offender refuses to sign and accept the citation, as provided in §
.

© This section shall not be construed to prohibit any municipality, by ordinance, or any county, by resolution, from prohibiting the passengers in a motor vehicle from consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage or beer in an open container during the operation of the vehicle by its driver, or be construed to limit the penalties authorized by law for violation of the ordinance or resolution.

[Acts 1994, ch. 638, § 1.]

http://www.michie.com/tennessee/

It was my understanding that many counties had taken it upon themselves to out law open containers in vehicles.

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It was my understanding that many counties had taken it upon themselves to out law open containers in vehicles.

Well part © does allow counties and cities to prohibit it, but how many have I'm not sure.

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(:cool: An open container is in the possession of the driver when it is not in the possession of any passenger and is not located in a closed glove compartment, trunk or other nonpassenger area of the vehicle; and

© A motor vehicle is in operation if its engine is operating, whether or not the motor vehicle is moving.

That means... When the passengers see the blue lights.... All the cup holders must be empty, and no one better have a free hand if there's an "open container" sitting anywhere....

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That means... When the passengers see the blue lights.... All the cup holders must be empty, and no one better have a free hand if there's an "open container" sitting anywhere....

LOL...well yeah, basically there needs to be one less open containers than there are occupants of the vehicle.......

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LOL...well yeah, basically there needs to be one less open containers than there are occupants of the vehicle.......

However, reading this... I do have a question... What if it isn't the original container? Does that have any bearing what so ever?

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However, reading this... I do have a question... What if it isn't the original container? Does that have any bearing what so ever?

“Open container†means any container...

What's unclear about that?

- OS

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I mean, the TCA says that if its an "open container" and it is in no one's possession, i.e. sitting in the cupholder, then it is in the driver's possession. What about if it is a solo cup? It isn't the original container so are the "possession requirements" the same?

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so from what I read, if I had a partial bottle of liquor in my vehicle I could be charged in violation of this law. Actually drinking it would have nothing to do with it all.

And maybe we are allowed to have an adult beverage as a passenger because we do not need the .gov making all of our decisions.

I wish there were more laws such as this one.

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When did the open container law change in TN? I did not know a passenger could drive. There has been a time or so I ask a person(friend not to drink) while I was driving because I thought it was against the law. In short I did not know it changed.

Could someone post the new law or info about it. I want to know about it.

I will say this, I am against any drinking and driving.

Once I take the first drink, I won't drive. I have my way home planned before I drink.

Far as I know it never did I had a friend get arrested for drinking in the passenger seat of my car for open container. Also, there was no ticket or citation given. They just stopped us. Saw him with an open container in between his legs in the seat, pulled him out the car, read him his miranda and took him to jail for open container even though I tried to tell the cop he was breaking the law for taking my friend to jail. Unfortunately my friend is indigent and could not afford an attorney to fight this charge in court. The public defender tried to but of course nothing happened and it went on his record.

Edited by tnxdshooter
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so from what I read, if I had a partial bottle of liquor in my vehicle I could be charged in violation of this law. Actually drinking it would have nothing to do with it all.

And maybe we are allowed to have an adult beverage as a passenger because we do not need the .gov making all of our decisions.

I wish there were more laws such as this one.

Correct on both accounts.

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Far as I know it never did I had a friend get arrested for drinking in the passenger seat of my car for open container. Also, there was no ticket or citation given. They just stopped us. Saw him with an open container in between his legs in the seat, pulled him out the car, read him his miranda and took him to jail for open container even though I tried to tell the cop he was breaking the law for taking my friend to jail. Unfortunately my friend is indigent and could not afford an attorney to fight this charge in court. The public defender tried to but of course nothing happened and it went on his record.

Well as was said a city or county can pass their own ordnance/resolution. The city I live in prohibits open containers anywhere in town period, not just in vehicles.

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Well, I learned something by reading these posts! Actually, the driver, realizing that s/he will **probably** be held responsible for a violation, should just tell his/her buddies to finish drinking the booze, or throw the stuff away or put the stuff in the trunk.

In other words, don't go up to the edge of the text of the law. Take a few steps backwards from the edge and stop **there.**

Example: I don't drink in the car at all. My passengers don't do that, either. The only time there's liquor in my car is when I go to the liquor store (and when I do, it is usually over $100) I put the unopened bottles in the trunk. Then I drive directly home. I put the stuff in the liquor cabinet, and drink at home.

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Open container laws should be pretty cut and dry.

No open alcoholic beverages at all in the vehicle.

People should have enough self-restraint to wait until they get where they are going to drink and be responsible about it.

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Far as I know it never did I had a friend get arrested for drinking in the passenger seat of my car for open container. Also, there was no ticket or citation given. They just stopped us. Saw him with an open container in between his legs in the seat, pulled him out the car, read him his miranda and took him to jail for open container even though I tried to tell the cop he was breaking the law for taking my friend to jail. Unfortunately my friend is indigent and could not afford an attorney to fight this charge in court. The public defender tried to but of course nothing happened and it went on his record.

Could your friend have been under 21?

They can’t just take someone in and book them on a charge that would be a simple ticket unless there is more to it. If he was a minor in possession, his license was suspended or revoked, he was refusing to sign, he was too intoxicated to sign, he was uncooperative or resisting, he had a warrant, etc.

In Illinois when we booked someone into jail a Command Officer was present and looked over the charges. Does that not happen in Tennessee?

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And maybe we are allowed to have an adult beverage as a passenger because we do not need the .gov making all of our decisions.

I wish there were more laws such as this one.

+1000

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People should have enough self-restraint to wait until they get where they are going to drink and be responsible about it.

And that is your opinion. Just because that is your opinion, that does not mean we need the government lording over us. We have gracious plenty of that as it is. Personally, i do not see a problem with a non-driver having a drink.

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