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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Brown-bagging and by the drink

Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008, at 9:22 AM

We've published a story today about brown-bagging once again - this time in Wartrace, and it's got this writer to thinking about how messed up Tennessee law seems to be in this regard.

Wartrace's attorney says that while the practice of "brown-bagging" is permissible in the city code, the small town would not be able to allow liquor by the drink, due to its small population.

For me, the issue has to do with controlling how much a person might consume in a sitting.

Here's what I don't understand: If a town passes a law allowing liquor by the drink, restaurants would be able to set up a bar and serve alcohol to their customers. The way I understand it, it is illegal in every state of the nation to serve a customer when they've had too much. Bartenders and servers have some pretty common sense rules about this and if Joe at the end of the bar has had too much, it's time to cut him off and call a cab.

But with brown-bagging, there is no such control. A fellow could walk into a place with a couple of quarts of Wild Turkey, inflicting acute alcohol poisoning upon himself and the only way to stop him would be to toss him out of the joint. Of course, he still has the booze and can get even more smashed, causing no end of trouble down the road.

I was surprised to read that up until 1986, bringing in a bottle to a restaurant wasn't prohibited at all until the state Supreme Court said that towns could regulate it. In Bell Buckle, the practice is up to the owner of the eating establishment. According to Wartrace's attorney, many of the anti-brown-bagging laws passed in various towns in Tennessee have been overturned for constitutional reasons.

Whenever the question of liquor by the drink is raised in small southern towns, the result is predictable. Church groups protest, saying that it will lead teens to drink, a lowering of moral standards, etc. But the practice is strictly regulated and there are serious penalties if a bartender does serve a minor. He or she can even be sued and held responsible if they serve an obviously impared person that causes an accident down the road.

That's not the case with brown bagging. The amount of consumption and the strength of the drink is up to the person enjoying the spirits.

So why does our state law allow an unregulated type of alcohol consumption go on in public places with little to no control while making it more difficult for a town to pass a law that allows someone to supervise and cut off the supply when someone has had too much to drink?

Opinions?


Comments
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[Show most recent comments first]

If the owner tosses someone out, who has a bottle because they are drunk..and they take the bottle with them, Wouldn't they be in violation of the open container law?

I know of a place in Lewisburg that use to allow brown bagging (not sure if they still do or not) but if you had a bottle that had been open in was not allowed inside, which I thought is rather silly because it seemed to me that they were saying "We would rather you come in and drink an entire bottle than to drink half a bottle"

-- Posted by Dianatn on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 9:33 AM

I also believe that this is very stupid to allow people to brown bag in any and all small town's..I read were you said that chruch groups protest saying that it will lead teens to drink..Well I think it is worse to take your teens out to eat at some of these wonderful resturants that usually have a live band playing and they see grown ups drinking from a paper bag...We have been to several of these resturants to eat and listen to music and then you have several tables that are loud and drinking from the brown bag...then your teen see's these people reaching under the table and getting that brown bag and pouring it into their coke...As I see it that is putting into our teen's head ..OH there is no drinking here BUT it is ok to carry it in a brown bag and hide it under the table and drink it that way... Just hide it...Like telling our teen's and showing our teens that you can drink BUT just hide it while you are doing it...We as a family love music and going to watch bands play at resturants and having a nice family dinner and then sitting back and having coffee and enjoying the music and maybe a little dancing...But always there are these gropus that come in with their BROWN BAG and they get very loud and then louder and get on the floor to dance and make a fool out of themself and you hear all kinds of cussing going on at their table..I have never seen any get mad and fight Thank Goodness....Some of these people I have seen doing this are Big Time People here in the area.Believe me they are the one's that are LOWERING the MORALS...

-- Posted by rebelrose on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 10:50 AM

I think even the owner of a hardware store would be expected to stop a dangerously inebriated person from going out on the road on his own.

I wish people could be made to hand over their car keys or have their vehicle "valet parked" in a secure area so they wouldn't have access to their car,bike or whatever unless they were fit to handle it.

(This would cover fatigue,illness,and distress,too. No impairment allowed.)

It would be easier to implement restrictions where there were several sources of alternative transportation (or where the town was so small and peaceful that a person could crawl home and arrive in one piece).

What we really need is a change in mindset.

If you want to have a good time out in public,expect to have little or no use of intoxicating substances.

If you want to erase any self-control or awareness of your surroundings,stay home and make accommodations for what may amount to suicide.

Don't ask your friends,family or strangers out in the world to deal with what can go wrong when "taking the edge off" leads to your health failing or your inability to act in a responsible manner.

When we think of what we owe those around us,we don't need lawmakers to try and do our thinking for us.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 11:09 AM

If people want to drink something different than what the restaurant offers (like champagne for an anniversary,wine they got as a gift,etc.),they should let the restaurant serve it to them.

Bringing in an open container would be problematic because the restaurant would have no way of knowing what might be in the bottle.

(By the same token,they might want to refuse people bringing in their own "pot luck" or birthday/wedding cake lest some food they didn't prepare lead to their being charged with food poisoning.)

All of us (especially community leaders) need to take into consideration how our conduct affects others.

Causing a young person to lose respect for authority or acquire a selfish set of values could be more deadly than any brawl or car wreck.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 11:21 AM

I just saw were Wartrace oked brown bagging...I was a little surprised by that because people have been bringing their own brown bag for a few years now here in Wartrace...I know because I have seen it and I live here in Wartrace...I think if you are going to drink out in the public that you should hand over your keys before the drinking get's started..You can not talk to or reason with someone that has been drinking..How in the world are you going to get the car key's from someone that is drunk...I would much rather see the law passed to were you can order drinks at a resturant cause you can cut them off when you see they have had one to many...Brown Bagging they are going to drink and drink until that brown bag runs dry...Then there is going to be trouble and a drunk driver on the road..It may be someone you love or someone I love that meets up with this brown bagging person on the road...

-- Posted by rebelrose on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 11:57 AM

Drunk Driving is a common practice in Wartrace...it has to be since folks that drink have to go to Shelbyville, Tullahoma, or Bell Buckle to get more when they run out. So you meet up with them when you don't even know it.

-- Posted by truckindaddy on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 12:34 PM

I know that also truckindaddy. That is why we have not let our son who is 17 now (as of this past saturday) get his drivers licence's.It is not that we do not trust him being a good driver..It is because it scares us to think about him out there and maybe come across a drunk driver..Then we get that knock at our door or phone call..He get's up-set with us some because all his friends drive and he does not...It is hard on Mom's and Dad's. We want to do the right thing and we do not want to hold him back..He already has a nice truck and fixed up like the boy's want them...Just this week we got the paper from the school that he needs to have to get his licence's..We just have to make that next BIG step in letting him get them...It scares us very much....

-- Posted by rebelrose on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 12:54 PM

I agree with many of the points in Brian's blog. It would seem that the law should be opposite: allow restaurants to serve alcohol and take away brown-bagging. Maybe, it's just me, but the term brown-bagging sounds so, well, hmm...odd. I also agree with Brian that it seems many folks in small towns go nuts when they hear about any drinking law. It's like we become so paranoid our children are going to become alcoholics when they see anyone drinking. Then when they finally do see drinking, which is usually in college, they go crazy and start binge-drinking every chance they get. While there is a fine line to walk when drinking around teenagers, proper exposure may do them well. Personally, I think we should take a lesson from other countries and their drinking mentality. Teenagers are exposed to responsible drinking at such a young age that it doesn't become a big deal, like it does here, to have a drink every now and then. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, if handled right, it can teach responsibility.

-- Posted by dooshie69 on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 2:21 PM

I have heard of restaurants where you can take your own wine if they don't sell wine. The restaurant then charges a corkage fee or something like that. It's a charge for opening the bottle for you. Some restaurants also charge a fee (perhaps $2) per glass which they furnish for the wine. At least that eliminates drinking out of a bag.

-- Posted by bettyhbrown on Wed, Apr 16, 2008, at 11:44 PM

RebelRose,

Your son can be killed just as easily by a Drunk Driver from the passenger seat of yours or any other persons vehicle. By allowing him to drive to school illegally you are creating a whole different problem. At least I'm assuming that is what you are doing from your post.

You can't shelter your child his entire life. According to the State of Tennessee he is old enough to drive so you need to cut the cord and allow the kid to enjoy his teenage years!

-- Posted by tgreader on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 1:18 PM

Sorry, I re-read your post. I'm assuming this is some type of paper that they require at the Driver's license place and not a paper that Cascade sent home telling you he needed to get a license. It wasn't real clear the way you worded it. Anyway, I still say you need to turn the boy loose.

-- Posted by tgreader on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 1:22 PM

tgreader

I just started letting my daughter drive to school this week myself. It's not easy to cut that cord! Your correct a child could just as easily be killed in a parents vehicle but we as parents are more experienced drivers too.

Hang in ther RebelRose! I was even questioned by several people about her having a car and not driving it. That's my daughter and my decision. Nobody wants to get that call or knock on the door no matter how old they are.

-- Posted by Disgusted on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 2:43 PM

I work for a liquor store and beleive me the laws are strange also. If we feel that someone has had to much to drink we are not suppose to sell to them, if we think they are under age we are to card ( our rule of thumb if you look under 30) we card. Here we take alot of static from customer that we question about whether they are to drunk to purchase more ( if they have a wreck and we have sold to them we can be held liable). If people brown bag they should be limited to a 750ml bottle of wine per 4 people this will give each person a nice glass and if they don;t drink all of it---the rest should be left at the restaurnt and not taken out. If they bring in a hard liquor they should be only allowed to bring a 375ml or smaller this way they will be limited to what they can consume. Drunk drivers are a problem and each restaurnt owner should take the risk and stop a person from leaving if they feel they have had to much to drink--they will take a cussing but in the long run it will be worth it.

-- Posted by justawalkn on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 8:23 PM

Heres a crazy idea, lets quit making laws and ordinances that dont really matter. Why not let the business owner decide if he wants to allow drinking in his business, brown bagged, served, or otherwise. The only concern of government should be to make sure no minors are partaking in the drinking. If the business lets someone out of there to drunk to drive then he/she should be liable. If a business owner starts losing business for allowing drinking then he will change or lose all his business and the same if people want to drink and the business owner doesnt allow it. Kind of like free market choice.

-- Posted by greasemonkey on Thu, Apr 17, 2008, at 8:43 PM

tgreader...I know I need to turn him loose....But it is so hard...No he does not drive anywere..His Dad works at the school and they go to school together...With all his older brothers they had their licence by 16. But within the past 4 years we have been to alot of funerals from boy's he knew that have died from reck's..It seem's like things have changed so much from when his brother's got their licences in the 80's and 90's...I want even let him go off with his friends if it's raining..To tell the truth I am thankful when it is raining on a friday or saturday night..I know he is not going to ask to go off...We have a scanner and I listen to it like a radio when he has gone off with his friend's..Time's has changed so much in the past 10 years...Boy we really got off the subject of BROWN BAGGING.. Sorry...As for brown Bagging...I would much rather just see them past the law to serve the drinks in a resturant than brown bagging....I believe it would control how much some would drink....I do not drink..BUT when he starts driving who knows I may need a brown bag myself to help me relax..lol

-- Posted by rebelrose on Fri, Apr 18, 2008, at 10:31 AM

Just breathe into the bag,rebelrose.

You don't have to drink from it. ;)

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sat, Apr 19, 2008, at 1:01 AM

I would rather see liquor by the drink, rather than brown bag. Only because it is a pain to carry a bag into a restaurant. I enjoy a glass of wine with my meal as does my wife, but it is a waste to open an entire bottle of wine for only two or three galsses between us.You pay fifteen to twenty dollars for a bottle and have to throw over half of it away runs into some cash. As for the affect it has on our youth to see people brown bagging, you have to look at your self and how you have taught your children. If you have done well your children will respect the lessions you have taught them and the morals you have instilled in them. I hope I have taught my children through my actions to be responsible, and to know right from wrong. To act in a respectable manner.

-- Posted by docudrama on Sun, Apr 20, 2008, at 12:51 AM

Just what is the brown bag law? Does anyone know what title and chapter it is? I would like to research it.

-- Posted by loralei on Fri, Sep 19, 2008, at 4:14 PM


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Brian Mosely is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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