(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.

Terms Used In Tennessee Code 55-10-416. Open container law

  • Code: includes the Tennessee Code and all amendments and revisions to the code and all additions and supplements to the code. See Tennessee Code 1-3-105
  • Driver: means every person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle. See Tennessee Code 55-8-101
  • misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
  • Motor vehicle: means every vehicle, including a low speed vehicle or a medium-speed vehicle that is self-propelled, excluding motorized bicycles, and every vehicle, including a low speed vehicle or a medium speed vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails. See Tennessee Code 55-8-101
  • State: when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the several territories of the United States. See Tennessee Code 1-3-105
  • Vehicle: means every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. See Tennessee Code 55-8-101

(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;

(B) 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

(C) 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 § Code Sec. 40-7-118″>40-7-118.

(c) 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.]