When Having too much to drink is illegal

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While there may not be anything wrong with having a few beers this weekend, be careful not to over-indulge and be “unreasonably annoying.”

Liquor Laws in Tennessee Sunday Sales

Of all the long and complicated laws in the Tennessee Code Annotated, this one is very straight-forward. Public Intoxication is a crime often busted by local Nashville-Metro police officers patrolling Broadway on a weekend, Titans football games on Sundays, and maybe even that rowdy brunch time on Saturdays.

However, the time and day for public intoxication matters are irrelevant…but the place is very important.

Public Intoxication law

TCA 39-17-310. Public intoxication.

(a)  A person commits the offense of public intoxication who appears in a public place under the influence of a controlled substance or any other intoxicating substance to the degree that:

     (1)  The offender may be endangered;

     (2)  There is endangerment to other persons or property; or

     (3)  The offender unreasonably annoys people in the vicinity.

Where and when the law applies

Alas, for this specific criminal charge to apply, the person must be in a public place. The term “public place” can be subjective. However, it no doubt applies to football games, downtown bars/restaurants, and outdoor concerts.

Secondly, the offender must usually be either a danger to self or to others. However, an offender could also be arrested for being “unreasonably annoying.” Consequently, that seems like it applies to a lot of intoxicated people. While this law applies all over Tennessee, we see it often here in Nashville. 

While there may not be anything wrong with having a few beers this weekend (or weekday, no one is judging), be careful not to over-indulge and be “unreasonably annoying.”

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