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Tennessee Alcohol Laws

Tennessee Alcohol Laws for Minors, Servers, and Bartenders

Tennessee alcohol laws apply to all residents and visiting individuals. These laws may vary to a degree locally. For instance, in 14 counties in the state, the sale of wines and spirits are prohibited by default. This means that these counties must legislate their own laws to be able to allow the sale of certain liquors.

If you’re looking to open a liquor business, work in an establishment that serves or sells alcohol, or simply want to be in the know regarding Tennessee liquor laws, this article will serve as a basic guide.

What age can you sell, serve, and consume alcohol in Tennessee

Under Tennessee alcohol laws, individuals below age 18 cannot by any means serve or sell alcohol. You must be at least 18 years or older to be employed as a server or as a bartender. 

Regardless of the nature of work, only persons 21 years and above are allowed to purchase and consume alcohol. Using a fake ID to buy alcohol is considered a criminal offense with fines that cost anywhere between $50 to $200.

blurred street and car side mirrorWhat are the laws on alcohol consumption and driving

Vehicle passengers may consume alcohol without legal repercussions but it is against the law for the driver to do so, although local laws still apply. A driver that produces more than .08% blood alcohol content or BAC on a chemical test will face penalties for driving under the influence (DUI).

The same rule applies to minors caught with a BAC of .02% or more.

Keep in mind that there are no legalities obliging you to submit to a field sobriety test, especially invasive blood tests. Some law officers may falsely claim that it’s required by the law when none exists (also known as implied consent laws). If you feel uncomfortable with it or are confident of your innocence, you may respectfully refuse or repeatedly state your position. 

Still, do so at your own risk. Some drivers who use their right to refuse may have their license revoked for a whole year.

Where to purchase alcohol in Tennessee

Here’s a quick guide.

Alcohol Type

Where to get

Times

Beer

Grocery stores
Convenience stores

Gas stations

8 am - 11 pm, Mondays to Saturdays

Beer, wine, distilled spirits

Liquor stores

8 am - 11 pm, Mondays to Saturdays

Most alcoholic beverages

Bars
Restaurants

8 am - 3 am, Mondays to Saturdays;
10 am - 3 am, Sundays

 

Additional Tennessee liquor law information:

  • Selling alcoholic beverages are prohibited on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. 
  • Businesses are not allowed to give out free drinks. 
  • Nonprofit, charitable, and political organizations can apply for special occasion licenses which will allow them to sell alcohol within the venue or sell sealed containers of alcoholic beverages for consumption outside the venue.

Is a bartending license required in Tennessee?

As is the case in Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, among other states, Tennessee requires all personnel who serve and dispense alcohol to obtain a Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) license or server permit. This includes servers, waiters, and bartenders.

For more comprehensive information on Tennessee alcohol laws, refer to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

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