NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The party could be over for the owner of Off the Wagon Tours, also known as Nashville Party Wagon, after a circuit court judge sentenced him to 40 days in jail for violating a court order to stop operating without a permit, but he plans to appeal.
According to court documents, Curtis Carney missed the deadline to apply for an entertainment transportation vehicle permit by a little more than five hours last year. Despite that, Carney continued to operate his company and he was cited 74 times, Metro officials said.
This year, court records state Carney didn’t apply for a permit at all.
In July, a judge issued an order for Carney to cease operations without a permit, but court records show his party wagons were spotted at least eight additional times by members of the Transportation Licensing Commission (TLC).
Circuit Court Judge David Briley ruled Carney’s violation was “willful,” and he sentenced Carney to five days in jail for each of the eight charges of criminal contempt, resulting in a 40 day sentence.
Jim Schmitz — a member of the grassroots group, Safe, Fun Nashville — told News 2 some party bus companies repeatedly get away with breaking the law because they’re never held accountable.
“It’s been a bad situation for a while, and I’m glad to see somebody finally holding someone accountable, and there just needs to be more of this,” Schmitz said. “Some rules have been put in place. Those rules were put in place with great care and conversation and open government, and you need to abide by the law.”
However, Carney’s attorney, Bryant Kroll, told News 2 his client plans to appeal the decision, arguing Metro doesn’t have the authority to seek an injunction, but only to enforce its ordinances. In this case, Kroll said Carney should have been fined $50 for every day he operated without a license, per Metro’s ordinance.
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“The citizens of Nashville should be deeply concerned that their government is refusing to follow
its own laws,” Kroll wrote in a press release. “Mr. Carney stands firm in his belief that opposition to Metro’s overreach is necessary to protect the rights of all citizens operating businesses in Nashville, even if it comes with the risk of his incarceration.”
Kroll argued the TLC picks and chooses which businesses are granted permits to operate, and even if an applicant submits their application on the deadline date, the commission could still refuse to grant the permit.
In addition, Kroll said Carney never received the more than 100 citations Metro issued, therefore, they should all be dismissed.
“Mr. Carney is most upset, however, by the fact that he will have to let his 15 employees go
right before the holiday season,” Kroll wrote.
A judge set Carney’s bond at $8,000. He is ordered to report to jail on Monday, Nov. 13.