Overly caffeinated drunkenness may be a thing of the past in Tennessee if a couple of state legislators from Memphis have their way.
Senator Reginald Tate and Representative Karen Camper are co-sponsors of a bill that would end the sale of energy drinks in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.
Tate said he created the bill after the Memphis Police Department (MPD) informed him of numerous incidents involving the consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks.
Unlike the effects from traditionally mixed drinks, the combination of a highly caffeinated energy drink and liquor conceals the feelings of intoxication. Vodka, Jagermeister, and rum are commonly mixed with canned energy drinks, like Red Bull or Monster.
"It's telling your body two different things at the same time," Camper said. "The alcohol is telling the body, Hey you're drunk, and the energy drink is saying Man, you're fine. Keep drinking. It's definitely risky behavior."
If passed, the bill would fine and suspend the liquor license of any Tennessee establishment that violates the new rules.
Although Tate said he based the bill on incidents that occurred in Memphis, MPD spokesperson Karen Rudolph said the consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks has led to more problems in other Tennessee jurisdictions.
"I created the bill as a result of incidents that erupted at bars and restaurants [where people had consumed] caffeine and alcohol," Tate said. "There's some type of reaction that people get from doing both. It gives people an adrenaline rush."
Brian McCade, the manager of Newby's on Highland, said Jager Bombs and Vodka Red Bull cocktails account for 10 percent of the bar's sales.
"If the bill is passed, it would definitely have an effect on us," McCade said. "We sell about 50 to 60 of those types of drinks on a busy night."
Keith Clark, a bartender at the downtown Huey's, said the bill wouldn't affect their beverage sales because the mixture isn't popular there: "We don't sell [more than] two to three on an average day."
Although intoxicated people may provoke trouble no matter what they've had to drink, Tate believes the combination of liquor and energy drinks makes violence more likely.
"Many students are coming from bars and getting stopped by police officers," Camper said. "They're so hyped from the caffeine that they don't realize they're drunk. This causes a lot of them to get arrest records they don't need, endanger other people's lives, or hurt officers because they don't know their strength."
The bill was filed in February. It's been assigned to the state and local government subcommittees of the Tennessee House and the Senate and is being reviewed.