Tennessee is one of ten states that allows passengers to consume or possess open containers of alcohol in automobiles, regardless of who is driving. That means that you should be allowed to continue partying in your Uber, while the driver is taking you where you want to go.
Many other states have strict open container laws. In Pennsylvania, riders are permitted to have open containers in vehicles designed for the transportation of persons for compensation, i.e. taxis, buses, limos. This might seem like Uber vehicles can clearly fit into this category and lawfully possess open containers because of it. That, however, is not the case.
Firstly, Uber vehicles are not always used for the transportation of persons for compensation, since they are typically a driver’s personal vehicle. Many Uber drivers are only part-time employees, which means the other part of their time is spent as a normal, everyday, civilian driver. There may be exceptions for drivers that use certain vehicles for Uber-purposes only.
Secondly, it is unclear if laws like Pennsylvania’s was intended to include companies like Uber. It clearly differentiates between “taxis, buses, and limos,” but does not leave an opening for other third-party, transportation companies. This could easily be used to include Uber passengers and drivers under the protection of the open container exception, or exclude them.
Uber’s code of conduct states that unless explicitly stated by a state’s law, open containers are not permitted in Uber vehicles. This would mean that in states like Pennsylvania, where the law does not specifically include or exclude Uber, Uber’s code of conduct prohibits drivers from allowing open containers.
Since Tennessee generally allows passengers to possess open containers in a vehicle, you should be able to bring your booze into your Uber. That means you get to keep your buzz!
For more information on laws or regulations in Tennessee, contact our Nashville criminal defense law firm today.