Open Container Law In Tennessee, Penalties, and Consequences 2023

Welcome; we will be discussing the open container law in TN today. So take your time as we open your eyes to the available penalties and consequences.

Open Container Law In Tennessee

Like most other states, Tennessee has regulations that forbid drivers from possessing open alcohol containers in their automobiles. 

The intricacies concerning what the open container legislation forbids once open containers are permitted in automobiles and the consequences of receiving an open container ticket are covered in this article.

According to Tennessee law, it is illegal to consume alcohol or have an open container in your possession while driving. 

The Tennessee State Code, in accordance, does not forbid passengers from consuming or indulging in alcoholic beverages, notwithstanding the possibility that some Tennessee municipal codes may be more stringent.

 Similarly, municipal and/or local laws may forbid having open alcoholic beverages in places other than a motor vehicle (e.g., while in a public location).

Any container of alcoholic beverages whose contents are immediately consumable or the seal of which has been broken is considered an “open container.” 

When the beverage is not in the custody of any passenger and is not stored in a closed glove box, trunk, or other non-passenger section of the car, the driver is deemed to have an open container. 

Last, a car is regarded as “in operation” for the Tennessee Open Container Law, even if it is not driving.

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-416] 

What is the Open container Law prescribed penalty in Tennessee

Be informed that “Open Container” is a Class C Misdemeanor in Tennessee and carries one or more of the following penalties:

  • A fine worth $50; 
  • A probation period; 
  • A custodial sentence of up to 30 days; 
  • And any other court expenses.

[Reference: 39-17-310 of the Tennessee Code Annotated]

Additional Repercussions of an Open Container Guilty verdict and the Value of Hiring Counsel

A person found guilty of open container may face collateral (other) repercussions in addition to the court’s prescribed punishments mentioned above. 

Scholarships for education or the right to apply for admission to institutes of higher learning may be forfeited in the event of an Open Container conviction. 

A conviction may also harm a person’s ability to keep or find work and result in disciplinary action against a professional certification (e.g., nursing). 

The best chance to avoid jail time, a conviction, or other related repercussions is to hire a knowledgeable Tennessee criminal defense lawyer.

An Open Container guilty verdict or conviction will remain on a person’s public record, barring extremely uncommon situations (criminal history). 

This implies that information about a person’s Open Container conviction may be accessed by potential employers as well as members of the public.

What is prohibited by Tennessee’s open container law?

According to Tennessee law, a motorist is not allowed to consume or have access to alcohol while operating a vehicle if

Either the beverage’s seal has been shattered, or it is open and ready for immediate consumption.

Not applicable to passengers. Tennessee’s open container laws only apply to the driver of the car, in contrast to most state laws that cover drivers and passengers.

An offense requires the engine to be running. Most states allow open container violations to occur even while a car is parked. The only time the engine must be running in Tennessee for a driver to be charged with an open container offense.

Definition of “alcoholic beverage.” Tennessee law defines “alcoholic beverage” as any liquid that contains alcohol and can be ingested by people. Some patented medications are not included in this definition.

What Exemptions Exist from the Open Container Law?

The driver compartment of the car is the intended target of Tennessee’s open container regulations. Therefore, beverages carried by passengers or stored in a closed glove box, trunk, or other “nonpassenger area” of the car are exempt from the open container limitations.

Why Consult a Lawyer Right Away?

To obtain and maintain favorable evidence, swift action is essential. Interviews with some witnesses must be conducted as early as possible. Over time, memories of substantial evidence (expressions, dates, incidents, and conversations) fade. 

Other evidence, including video recordings, can also be lost. To prevent the loss of significant evidence, it is crucial to initiate an investigation immediately soon as feasible. 

Only a few hours or days following an arrest, the offender and his or her Tennessee criminal attorney may decide whether criminal prosecution will succeed or fail.

Related: Open Container Law In Texas

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