Will Tennessee Make Restaurant Delivery Permanent? 

January, 2021 - Will Cheek, III

Tennessee state Rep. Bob Ramsey has introduced state legislation that makes delivery of alcoholic beverages by restaurants, hotels and other liquor by the drink licensees “permanent” — at least for three years. Download a copy of the legislation here. Upon a quick reading, the legislation appears to be modeled after Governor Lee’s emergency orders that legalized delivery during the pandemic

We hear Stevie Wonder’s catchy refrain:

Ooh baby, here I am

Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours, I'm yours


There is one notable departure from emergency delivery of alcohol. The legislation attempts to shield license holders from all “conduct” of a third-party delivery service driver. This would appear to be an effort to allow license holders to escape fines and suspensions for drivers delivering alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons, for example.

The proposed legislation does not contain any penalties for drivers that deliver to minors or otherwise violate liquor laws. Keep in mind that most restaurant delivery services do not hold any license with the ABC and are not required to provide any training to drivers for the delivery of alcohol. The ABC and beer boards do not have direct jurisdiction over these delivery services and their drivers.

The legislation also does not correct an apparent deficiency in the law for sale to minor stings using web and app ordering services. To place an order for alcohol, ordering services universally require a click-through that the individual placing the order is 21 or over. As we understand current law, an under-age law enforcement officer cannot lie about their age. An under-age cadet cannot legally place an on-line order for delivery of alcohol, preventing law enforcement from conducting routine age-compliance checks.

Stay tuned for more about the delivery bill and other legislation by subscribing to Last Call.


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