Friday, June 21, 2024

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To-Go Alcohol Law in Tennessee is Extended

Classic Martini, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tennesseans may recall that  Governor Lee signed an executive order during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for take-out.  Apparently, this order was so popular that the Tennessee legislature extended the law to allow “To-Go” purchases of alcohol to continue. However, the extension of the “To-Go” law is only for two years.

The bill summary for Tennessee House Bill 0241 states,

Generally under present law, the holder of a license to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption (licensee) is prohibited from selling wine or other alcoholic beverage in any sealed or unsealed package to any patrons or customers for consumption off its premises. This bill authorizes, for a limited period of time, a licensee to offer drive-through, pickup, carryout, and delivery orders of alcoholic beverages and beer at the licensee’s place of business if the sale of alcoholic beverages and beer for consumption off the licensee’s premises:
(1) Is accompanied by the sale of food in the same order;
(2) Is packaged in a container or bottle with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap; and
(3) Consists of single servings of alcoholic beverages or beer, or multi-serving bottles or containers of beer or wine that are lawfully sold by the licensee.

This bill requires the licensee selling alcoholic beverages and beer under this bill to post a conspicuous sign containing the language ‘A driver shall not consume alcoholic beverages or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.’

This bill specifies that it does not authorize a licensee to sell bottles of distilled spirits. This bill also provides that an employee of a licensee or delivery service licensee is prohibited from providing or delivering alcoholic beverages or beer to a person under 21 years of age or who is visibly intoxicated. This bill requires an employee of a licensee or delivery service licensee who is providing or delivering alcoholic beverages or beer to inspect a valid, government-issued photo identification card that is acceptable to the licensee and that contains the photograph and birthdate of the purchaser confirming that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age. This bill also requires that an employee of a licensee making a delivery of alcoholic beverages or beer pursuant to this bill be at least 21 years of age and possess a valid server permit.

Sales of alcoholic beverages and beer made under this bill must be in accordance with the present law provisions governing hours for sale of alcoholic beverages or beer, as applicable. Also, the licensee must collect the liquor by the drink tax imposed on alcoholic beverages for all sales of alcoholic beverages made under this bill. The licensee will not collect such tax on the sale of beer.

This bill will cease to be effective on July 1, 2024, and the law in effect prior to this bill’s effective date will be restored at that time.”

Interestingly, the Fiscal Summary of the Bill estimates that the additional taxes will generate $4.7 million in revenue in the next fiscal year and $3 million in the following fiscal year.

About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants.  Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.  Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 8th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and six foreign countries.  After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019.  If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

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