Category Archives: alcoholic beverages

DUI charge against Rep. Beck dismissed; video released

A judge has dismissed DUI charges against state Rep. Carson “Bill” Beck, D-Nashville, and police have released a video tape of his arrest, reports The Tennessean.

The more than 90-minute video starts when Officer Bradley Nave spots a pickup being driven partially in a center turn lane on Woodland Street in East Nashville. It ends with Beck being booked into the Criminal Justice Center downtown.

In it, Beck tells his wife to call a Davidson County sheriff’s administrator after his arrest and addresses questions about his residency, an issue that has come up before for the freshman legislator.

On Tuesday, Cheatham County Judge Phillip Maxey dismissed Beck’s DUI case saying straddling the lanes was not enough evidence for the officer to stop Beck. Maxey was brought in to hear the case. Police released the dashcam video Tuesday after it was requested by The Tennessean.

In the arrest video, Beck starts but does not complete sobriety tests and says he has had nothing to drink. Beck appears to sleep at times in the back of a patrol car when waiting for his wife to pick up his truck and on the way to jail.

He also tells his wife, “Pam, call John Taylor and tell him I’m in his jail.”

According to the Davidson County sheriff’s website, Taylor is the chief warrant officer and an administrator in the department. He also works as the agency’s state legislative and Metro Council liaison, according to the website.

In the dashcam video, Officer Nave asks for Beck’s license and proof of insurance. In an exchange with Nave, Beck says he lives in Nashville. But Nave said Beck’s insurance card shows a Hendersonville address in Sumner County.

“You live in Hendersonville or Nashville?” Nave asked.

“Nashville,” Beck replied, adding about the insurance card: “Must be an old one.”

Beck, who was elected last year and represents parts of Davidson County, has faced scrutiny as to whether he actually lived in his district. In June 2014 the Davidson County Election Commission unanimously denied a request to remove Beck from the ballot; the request argued he actually lived in Sumner County. Beck acknowledges owning more than one home, but argued he lived primarily in the district.

Ad campaign scrapped after sexism charges; Haslam glad

Gov. Bill Haslam was unaware of the new campaign launched by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office that some say is sexist and is glad that it has been suspended, according to a spokesman.

State officials say the advertising campaign, which included distribution of poster and coasters to bars, was aimed at young men with the goal of discouraging drunken driving. A sample flier: “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember: If your judgement is impaired, so is your driving.”

That and similar lines prompted several people to say the campaign smacked of sexism and was offensive to women. (Note: Previous post HERE.)

“The Governor’s Office had not seen the campaign. The governor doesn’t like it and is pleased that it has been suspended,” said gubernatorial spokesman David Smith in an email.

And here’s a statement from Kendell Poole, Director Governor’s Highway Safety Office:

The Governor’s Highway Safety Office would like to apologize for any offense caused by the 100 Days of Summer Heat Booze It and Lose It Campaign. Because one of the goals of many Booze It and Lose It campaigns is to reach our high risk driving population, the marketing is often edgy and designed to grab the attention of the young male demographic. It was never the intent of the GHSO to be insensitive or insulting to women.

The GHSO receives federal funding to change driver behavior through education and enforcement. No state dollars are used for the marketing of campaigns such as Booze It and Lose It or Click It or Ticket.

The table tents, posters, and coasters in question will no longer be distributed and are being removed from bars across the state. The cost for the production and distribution of these materials was $77,096. The cost for the removal of these materials will be paid for by The Tombras Group, the Knoxville media/marketing firm that is under contract with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. The Tombras Group has also removed the micro-website that was designed to be a companion to the bar materials.

The goal of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office continues to be reducing crashes and saving lives in the state of Tennessee. Impaired driving continues to be the preeminent danger facing motorists across the nation.

UPDATE: WSMV reports that the total cost of the campaign was $846,000 and had some other unusual elements — such as sponsoring a contest for submission of “best drinking stories” at one point. Note: The ad campaign had prompted critical news releases from Democrats prior to announcement that it had been suspended. A couple are below.
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Governor’s ‘girls look hotter’ anti-DUI campaign criticized

A new anti-DUI campaign by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, which involves distributing materials in bars, is being criticized as sexist by some, reports The Tennessean.

One of the fliers reads: “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember: If your judgement is impaired, so is your driving.” On coasters, there are comments such as a declaration that finding out “a marginally good-looking girl” later is “chatty,” “clingy” or “your boss’s daughter” as a sign that maybe a man has had too much to drink.

Despite what some are calling a sexist message, Charlie Bob’s waitress Tiffany Cannon, who recently found the campaign’s coasters and fliers at the Dickerson Pike bar Saturday, said the most offensive words were written below the slogan, “Paid for by the TN Governor’s Highway Safety Office.”

“My first reaction was cool, we got free coasters,” said the 25-year-old, who also works as a bartender at the restaurant. “But then one of my customers pointed out what was on them, and my jaw dropped.”

After an inquiry by The Tennessean, the office sent a statement from Director Kendell Poole that took credit for the advertising campaign, saying it was intentionally designed to reach the “young male demographic.”

“We take feedback from the public seriously and want to thank all of those who have reached out to share their opinions with us,” the statement said. “It was never the intent of our office to offend anyone. This new initiative was designed to reach the young male demographic, who are statistically more likely to drive under the influence. Well-known adages, like dating the boss’s daughter, were used to grab their attention within the bar environment. Our office continually experiments with new strategies in order to be effective with various target demographics, and we will be closely monitoring the results.”

“They were anti-feminist. It was ridiculous and rude to both genders,” said Cannon, who became even more angry minutes later when she walked into the women’s bathroom and found a flier with similar advertising glued to the wall.

…Businesswoman Laura Creekmore, of Creek Content, a Nashville content strategy consulting company, said she has been in marketing for 20 years and is shocked by what the Governor’s Highway Safety Office has done.

“I’m all in favor of being snarky in a campaign, but you don’t have to be sexist to do that,” she said. “It is unfortunate for the young men of Tennessee if we think we have to be sexist to get the message across. When people see one of these slogans in a bar, they don’t understand the context of the campaign, they just see the message in front of them.”

The governor has not responded to requests for comment, nor has the Governor’s Highway Safety Office identified the firm that created the campaign or disclosed the cost.

Sheriff uses ‘drunken informant’ in illegal booze sales sting

In an “unusual sting” operation, the Johnson County Sheriff’s office sent a “drunken informant” into six stores selling alcoholic beverages and all six sold the intoxicated individual more alcohol in violation of state law.

Further from the Johnson City Press:

According to a news release sent by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, deputies conducted the compliance check last week by sending an impaired informant into six businesses to buy alcohol. An undercover officer, who drove separately to each location, recorded each instance with a hidden body camera, and an investigator drove the drunken informant to the six businesses.

The release said all six businesses sold alcohol to the drunken informant. Under Tennessee law, it is illegal to sell alcohol to a visibly impaired person.

Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said the sheriff’s office organized the mass sting after an incident last month in which an off-duty employee witnessed a convenience store clerk sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer. After buying alcohol, the man got behind the wheel of a vehicle and swerved into oncoming traffic leaving the store, Reece said, and fled the scene before officers could arrive.

…Reece said deputies gave the informant a breathalyzer test before sending him to the stings, and he clocked in at a .146 blood alcohol conten — nearly twice the legal limit of intoxication of .08 BAC in Tennessee. Reece said the informant was also showing physical signs of drunkenness, such as stumbling around in the store and fumbling for his wallet at the register, yet he was never refused service.

“It’s nothing to try to hurt people, it’s to try to educate them,” Reece said. “Don’t sell to these people if they’re already intoxicated.”

On TN DUI cases dismissed

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Officials in Sullivan County are looking to change how some drunken driving arrests are made after finding a “deficiency” in the criminal process that has led to charges being dismissed in several cases and threatened in others.

The Kingsport Times-News reports ( the county’s criminal judges say that some DUI arrests and prosecutions taking place during after-hours have progressed without following a legal procedural step that includes getting a magistrate’s approval.

Local judges attended the county commission’s work session last week to plead for a fix.

The commission is expected to consider a resolution to appoint four magistrates, who would be on call at night and on weekends and holidays and would meet face-to-face with arresting officers to approve or deny their causes to support the arrests.

Note: Elsewhere on DUI matters, the Crossville Chronicle reports on a judge’s dismissal of a case where the charges were not filed until 10 months after the event that caused them — a Highway Patrol car hitting the DUI suspect’s vehicle, leaving him critically injured. The blood test taken from accused man at the time had been lost in the interim. The man’s attorney also noted that the charges came after his client had filed a claim against the state for injuries suffered in the crash.

Fundraiser Kaegi gets new term on ABC

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed political fundraiser Brian Kaegi to a new term on the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, a three-member panel that oversees enforcement of state alcohol laws and licensing of establishments. The position carries a state salary of $6,000 per year.

Kaegi, first appointed to the ABC in 2011, represents Middle Tennessee on the panel. The West Tennessee seat is held by Mary McDaniel, a retired Federal Express executive, and the East Tennessee seat by John Jones, a Democrat from Johnson City reappointed to the panel after longer service under Democratic gubernatorial administrations.

Observes Andrea Zelinski:

Kaegi served as principal of the direct mail firm used by the Advance Tennessee political action committee last year. The PAC spent $214,000 to combat select Republicans in the August primary election, according to PAC filings with the Registry of Election Finance. Kaegi has also raised money for Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell.

Action Andrea’s post, HERE, also includes the full list of 201 board and commission appointees announced this week by Haslam.

Some companies expecting business boost from booze delivery service bill

Restaurant delivery services such as GrubHub, OrderUp and Delivery Dudes are gearing up to begin alcoholic beverage deliveries starting July 1, the effective date of a new law third-party companies to take up to a gallon of booze from retailers to consumers, reports The Tennessean.

Guy Stanke, owner of the Nashville-area Delivery Dudes service, anticipates an increase in sales of 50-100 percent once his drivers can start delivering alcohol to consumers.

“It’s substantial,” he said. “The demand for this kind of thing is very high.”

Companies can deliver up to 1 gallon of alcohol per customer per delivery, and delivery drivers must require customers to show a valid form of identification, according to the legislation. Drivers delivering alcohol must also be 21 years old and pass a criminal background check.

In addition at least 50 percent of the delivery service’s gross sales must come from food delivery. Delivery service companies and drivers will have to obtain a state license to deliver alcohol.

State Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, a sponsor of the bill (HB1011, as amended), thinks the regulations in the law are going to prohibit or at least curtail deliveries to minors. He said the price will also likely make the service less attractive to “college kids,” considering the service more of a luxury purchase.

…Johnson argued the bill removes unnecessary regulation, but acknowledged it’s in response to new delivery technologies as well. Although those technologies are relatively controversial at the statehouse — a new bill creating statewide regulations for ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber was hotly debated until the end of this year’s session — Johnson said the state shouldn’t ignore opportunities these technologies create.

“I think you’re going to see more and more of this, and we just want Tennessee to be a hospitable place for that type of technology,” Johnson said.

Rep. Haynes exits House by passing alcoholic beverage bill, delivering farewell speech

State Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville is one of the youngest members of the Tennessee Legislature but on Wednesday the last bill he presented as a lawmaker also included a nod to older folks, according to Richard Locker.

The bill, which addresses several alcohol issues, includes a provision saying that liquor store clerks don’t have to require people who “reasonably appear” to be at least 50 to show an identification card showing their age before selling them an alcoholic beverage.

(Note: It’s HB542, introduced as a caption bill, then much amended. The ’50 and older’ language is part of Senate Amendment 3.)

…Haynes, who turns 30 on May 8, is leaving the General Assembly when it adjourns for the year to become full-time chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, a post he was elected to by the party’s state executive committee on April 11. He has represented the 14th House District — Farragut and the southwestern corner of Knox County — since 2009. He won re-election to his fourth term last November and is chairman of the Knox County legislative delegation.

When he took the House podium for the final time as a House member, he gave an emotional farewell. With his voice breaking, he said it was an honor to represent the people of his district and Knox County, and to serve in the House. “When I first got down here, I would go home on the weekends and tell my mother and father about what good people serve here. And each one of y’all have been like my family my entire adult life,” Haynes said.

The House added an amendments that prohibits “advertising, describing, labeling, naming, selling or referring to an intoxicating liquor as ‘Tennessee Moonshine’ unless it’s distilled in Tennessee. The Senate concurred and sent it to the governor.

Comptroller Justin Wilson likens Memphis to a recovering alcoholic

State Comptroller Justin Wilson has penned an op-ed piece in the Commercial Appeal that compares governments to alcoholics – and pronounces Memphis on the road to recovery. An excerpt:

The individual knows he is drinking too much and the government recognizes that its finances are precarious, but hey, it’s not that serious, I’ll change tomorrow or next year. Besides, getting drunk makes me happy and providing services and benefits we don’t pay for today keeps the voters happy.

The downward spiral progresses until the individual or the government hits bottom. That happens with the realization that the pain caused by the substance abuse or the financial irresponsibility outweighs the pleasure derived from the behavior.

For the individual this might mean the loss of a job or jail. A government might lose control of its budget, or the state intercepts tax collections. What it takes to hit bottom varies widely. Each case is different. But in the end there’s an acknowledgment that life has become unmanageable.

At this point, the individual or government can make a decision to change. If this doesn’t happen, the spiral continues. The individual may lose his life. The government can no longer deliver essential services.

If the desire to change is real, and it often is not, the individual or government begins the long tricky road to recovery. Change ain’t easy. It will take what is commonly called tough love from those who care about the person affected. There will be setbacks. Perseverance and determination are required to recover.

I believe the city of Memphis is now in recovery.

…Most alcoholics still struggle with temptation, and there is always the danger of falling off the wagon. But if Memphis continues on its road to recovery, and continues to make good financial decisions, there is no reason to compare it to Detroit. Rather, Memphis will find its rightful place among the world’s most vibrant cities.