Open Container Laws in Tennessee
Even with the COVID pandemic affecting everyone’s daily routines, I have no doubt that this time of year people will still attend Christmas parties and other social gatherings. Unfortunately, they will also consume alcohol and choose to operate an automobile. Even though some may not be legally intoxicated, they could still be breaking the Tennessee Open Container Law.
Open Container Laws Vary By State
This open container law, T.C.A. 55-10-416, basically prohibits and/or states the following:
- The Tennessee Open Container Law is different from many states in that it only applies to the driver of a vehicle, not to the passengers. Passengers are free to consume alcoholic beverages if they are of legal drinking age.
- The law is applicable to any driver who is physically operating a motor vehicle or when the vehicle is ON and stationary. Basically, if the engine is on and the driver an open container, he/she can be cited.
- An open container is considered any alcoholic beverage or beer wherein the seal has been broken and is immediately available for consumption.
- Open container violations do not extend to a glovebox, trunk, or any area outside the vicinity of the driver.
- If an open container is in a cupholder between the driver and a passenger, officers will usually assume the beverage is in possession of the driver since it is in the near vicinity of the driver.
- A violation of the Tennessee Open Container Law is a Class C misdemeanor. A citation for an open container is punishable by a fine only unless the offender refuses to sign the citation. If the offender refuses to sign the citation he/she can be placed in physical custody.
Don’t Drink and Drive
The best legal advice the attorneys at The Chiozza Law Firm can offer is to never drive a vehicle with an open alcoholic beverage. While you may be sober, an open container provides an officer with probable cause to investigate your ability to drive. This will usually involve extended questioning and a field sobriety test. Rest assured, this process will be time consuming and embarrassing, even if you are sober. An officer will always do their job to determine if one is impaired while driving, especially during the holiday season.
The staff and attorneys at The Chiozza Law Firm want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We know 2020 has been especially stressful, but with a COVID-19 vaccine on its way, we keep hope that better times are ahead. Use caution this holiday season and avoid drinking and driving. As we mention on our site, even being charged with a DUI in Tennessee can seriously affect one’s family and employment. It is always best to call UBER, LYFT, or a local Taxicab, which we assure you is a safer and much cheaper alternative to a DUI conviction.
The Chiozza Law Firm Has Your Back
If you need legal assistance of any type, The Chiozza Law Firm is here to help. By calling 1(901)526-9494 or visiting us downtown at 230 Adams Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103, no appointment necessary, we are happy to answer your legal questions. If we can’t assist you, we will try to point you in the right direction or refer you to an attorney who can help. For immediate assistance feel free to email Attorney Brian Chiozza, email@example.com, or text us at (901) 545-9390.
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