Petition Calls For New Law In Honor Of Riley Strain To Require Nashville Bars To Call Cabs For Intoxicated Guests

Luke Bryan bar Riley Strain
Luke's 32 Bridge/Riley Strain

Trying to prevent what happened to Riley Strain from happening to others.

It’s been over a month since the body of the 22-year old University of Missouri student was pulled from the Cumberland River near downtown Nashville after a two-week search. Strain was last seen after being asked to leave Luke Bryan’s lower Broadway bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge, and then for some reason walked in the opposite direction of his hotel.

Authorities say there was no sign of foul play, and Luke’s bar released a statement during the search clarifying that he was served only one alcoholic drink and two waters at their bar before being asked to leave.

But many have claimed that the bar should have done more to make sure that he got home safe after he was kicked out. And now a petition is circulating calling for a new law to require Nashville bars to do just that.

The petition on calls for a new “Riley’s Act” law, which would require bars to call cabs or Ubers for “intoxicated &  disoriented individuals.” It’s asking the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Metro Nashville City Council, and the Tennessee state legislature to implement the change.

According to the petition:

“We were all young once and made choices such as over drinking. or simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is a business owner’s responsibility for safety not only at their establishment, but also for their customers to leave safely.”

So far organizers have already collected over 30,000 signatures, though none of the governmental agencies have responded as of right now.

And while I get the thought behind the petition, I’m not sure that the solution is to put the responsibility on the bars. Would they be required to make sure that the person got in the vehicle, or does their responsibility end when they call for the ride? And what about people who say they’re only staying a block away and can walk? Does the bar then have to verify that they made it back to their hotel safely? What if they have a sober friend with them, would the bar still have to call an Uber? And of course, who’s paying for it?

I see a lot of issues with a law like this, not to mention the fact that a lot of Uber drivers will cancel the ride and not pick up passengers who appear to be overly intoxicated. (I got kicked out of an Uber on Broadway once because I had the hiccups. Wasn’t even super drunk, I just had the hiccups but apparently it made the driver nervous that I was going to blow chunks).

It could also be a potential liability nightmare for the bar if the driver that they call ends up taking advantage of the intoxicated patron – or worse.

Of course it’s a good idea for bars to make sure that they’re not justs putting people out on the street alone who are so drunk and disoriented that there’s no way they can get home. And bars should take the responsibility for making sure that people have a way to get home safe if they’re by themselves. But requiring them to call an Uber or a cab just seems like it would present a lot of problems.

But in a town like Nashville, where downtown is filled with tourists in an unfamiliar city whose only goal seems to be to get as drunk as possible, it’s clear that more needs to be done to protect visitors and guests in these bars.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock