No roof, no booze for some party vehicles, as officers enforce new ordinance

Posted at 7:31 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 20:31:15-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Police Department officers said they will now begin issuing $50 citations for those who violate the new alcohol ban on unenclosed party vehicles.

NewsChannel 5 found officers south of Broadway at Sprocket Rocket, handing out copies of the Metro public notice. In the document, operators will find Metro’s definition for “enclosed vehicle.” These are vehicles that are “fully enclosed by metal, plexiglass or glass on all sides and on the top/roof.”

The side must be a full enclosure and cannot consist solely of a guard rail or railing. Vehicles that meet this definition are allowed to have customers drink on board, otherwise, they face penalties.

Emmit Martin owns Sprocket Rocket and said this unfairly targets the pedal tavern industry. He’s heard of other party vehicles installing plexiglass, but Martin says that’s just not an option on his vehicles.

“The party bikes and pedal taverns have already been regulated. We already follow the rules. We, unfortunately, got swept up into this with the motor vehicles,” Martin said.

Martin knew the new rules would take effect on Dec. 1, but said he never expected officers at his door speaking about expectations moving forward.

The conversations were civil and the message was clear. Officers explained how this was not about handing out citations on the first day, but rather explaining the process.

A group of officers will be joining those with the Transportation Licensing Commission and the Beer Board to monitor compliance. A team of six officers and a sergeant will be in the area of entertainment transportation pickup and drop-off locations to remind businesses of the new ordinance.

MNPD will also have officers on the Entertainment District Initiative watching for compliance Thursday through Sunday nights.

Anyone caught with an open container on these unenclosed party vehicles faces a $50 fine. This includes customers. The stakes are raised for the operators as they’re now regulated by Metro. If they accumulate too many infractions, they risk losing their permits.

The notice also mentions that the sound ordinance is also in effect. It prohibits a person from “operating or occupying a motor vehicle with a sound amplification system that is audible at a distance of fifty or more feet from the vehicle.” The ordinance was just recently amended to also include transpotatinment vehicles.

Councilmember Freddie O’Connell is currently working on a new bill to bring alcohol back under the condition that operators get a BYOB (bring your beer) permit through Metro. O’Connell said he’s making an amendment to the bill after speaking with the Beer Board but plans to reintroduce the bill for its second reading next week.

It’s that back and forth Martin said he doesn’t understand. If safety is the goal, then why punish those already doing the right things, he questioned.

“I’m not going to lose my business just to let someone else have a good time. It ain’t worth it,” Martin said.

Officers told us that they understand not all cases are the same. They plan to focus their attention on those who should know the rules and stand out for all the wrong reasons.