Rank these alcohol-related activities by the level of criminal offense in Tennessee:

  • Obtaining a third DUI conviction
  • Piloting a commercial cruise line up the Mississippi while intoxicated
  • After a couple of beers, shooting that dog that’s been scaring your cow
  • Driving from nearby St. Louis with six bottles of wine
  • Purchasing alcohol for a child
  • Member of the Alcohol Beverage Commission accepting a bribe

Answers below the jump

After navigating the many blue laws of my new environs, I discovered at a Sunday morning brunch that my Bloody Mary will not be arriving until after noon, because, well, Sunday mornings are for sober reflections and, for the Lord. Talmudic debate about the appropriate day to celebrate the Sabbath aside, there is an exception: Titans stadium. Football! Hallelujah!

Here is the ranking, from lowest to highest offense, and the cite to the relevant section in the Tennessee Code:

  • Not a crime:
  • After a couple of beers, shooting that dog that’s been scaring your cow
    Dogs shouldn’t be scaring livestock anyway (44-17-203). Now, if the dog was minding its own business, then it rises to the level of a …
  • Misdemeanor:
  • Member of the Alcohol Beverage Commission accepting a bribe
    A Class C Misdemeanor (57-1-109), the lowest punishment for alcohol-related offenses is reserved for the corruptible officials who oversee them.
  • Purchasing alcohol for a child
    It is a class A misdemeanor, unless the child tells you he’s 21, in which case you could be okay (39-15-404).
  • Piloting a commercial cruise line up the Mississippi while intoxicated
    Having hundreds of passengers endangered is, in the view of Tennessee law, the same as buying an 18 year old a beer. And, they might take away your boating license (69-9-219).
  • Obtaining a third DUI conviction
    Only your third DUI? (55-10-403) After all, people make mistakes, right? And mistakes. And mistakes. Now if you get convicted a fourth time of driving under the influence, only then have you committed a …
  • Felony:
  • Driving from nearby St. Louis with six bottles of wine
    Yup, its a felony (57-3-401).

I think I finally made sense of this ordering. Buying booze for kids and driving or boating while intoxicated all require the purchase of alcohol. Only bringing a few wines from out of state bypasses the Tennessee wholesalers. Isn’t taking money from their pockets the worst crime of all? Probably not. But that’s why we have to keep the penalties for bribing public officials so low.

And if you have several bottles of out-of-state beer in your car, drink them before continuing on your way. The penalty is lower.

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