Bring your own beer? Metro Council will decide if party goers can do so

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 22:26:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new bill could bring alcohol back to party vehicles in Metro Nashville.

This comes just one month after the Nashville Metro Council voted to ban alcohol from unenclosed vehicles beginning in December.

Council member Freddie O’Connell sponsored the bill, which said party-goers can bring alcohol on board, as long as it’s below 8% alcohol by volume. That’s because Metro has the authority to regulate alcohol at that level, meanwhile, it’s up to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to regulate anything beyond that limit.

"If there are a handful of good operators out there that can let their passengers have a good time without disrupting the quality of life in Nashville neighborhoods, then to me that’s something I can live with," O'Connell said.

O’Connell said his plan would now give Metro the ability to oversee operations with these vehicles and the drinks served. This means party vehicles would need a new “Bring Your Own Beer” permit from the Metro Beer Permit Board.

The new change came after several party vehicle owners claimed the original ban on alcohol could end the industry in Nashville. Council members likely won’t vote on this before Dec. 1, which means the ban on alcohol will go into effect before any change is made.

O’Connell said he’s heard from state legislators who convinced him that they could interject if they felt Metro was overreaching with their ban.

This new bill is the compromise O’Connell said he hopes can make party vehicles safer, but also keep an entire industry from dying out.

Parris McKinney Jr., who owns and operates Extreme Experience Party Bus in Nashville, still has the occasional cancellation after the alcohol ban was first announced. However, he says most people now just call to get answers.

"Bringing the alcohol back to us and having the permit would have a big impact on helping us get back to semi-normal," McKinney said.

He doesn't mind any new regulations, as long as they stay in place. His staff has been certified through the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, so McKinney understands there's value in having well trained drivers and bartenders on board. They're instructed on how to spot someone who's had to much and cut them off before it's too late.

Not every party bus operator will require this training or any other and McKinney hopes regulation changes that. He says most are open to the idea of holding party bus companies accountable if it means a safer experience for customers and Nashville.

"If they just give us the rules of everything, I really think we'll be okay," McKinney said.

The bill will be in its first reading at Metro Council on Tuesday. We've also learned that another bill on transpotainment will be discussed. This bill would restrict vehicles to a one-mile route between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.