Potty Police: Tennessee Sheriff Runs Plates Of Car For Restaurant To Charge For Use Of Bathroom

398099_402900449794167_1324443176_nIn Erin, Tennessee, The Flood Zone on Highway 149 is serious about its bathrooms. When Patricia Barnes used the bathroom and then left without buying anything, the owner ran outside and wrote down the license plate of her car. Later, she received a $5 charge for the use of the bathroom. Putting aside that that is a pretty high cost for the use of a bathroom, Barnes wondered how the restaurant could have tracked down her address. The answer appears to be Houston County Sheriff Darrell Allison, who ran the plate for the restaurant.


There is so much wrong with this story. First, I am not sure what legal basis the restaurant has to insist on a $5 fee. It is not clear if the restaurant states such a fee outside of the bathroom.

The bigger problem is the role of Sheriff Allison who gave the information to a private business to charge an individual. Allison insists that he ran the plates because it was a possible crime. Presumably, that is the crime of using a bathroom without buying food?

If that is true, however, Allison notably did not file a police report or file charges. He simply handed over the information to a private citizen.

Allison insists that this is not a big deal and that he did nothing wrong. That makes this even more worrisome that Allison has no concept of basic rules of privacy and professionalism in law enforcement. Police are not supposed to work as agents of private citizens or businesses. Allison used public authority and resources to assist a private business. Not only did he turn his department into a glorified collection agency but did so solely on the word of this owner.

I am not sure why anyone would want to go to The Flood Zone given the extreme measures used by the owners. If you are on Highway 149, you might want to go down the road to “Sweet P” or “Jap Smith BarBQ.” if you do not want your license plates recorded.

Now for the most wonderful twist on the story, the owner of The Flood Zone said that she will no longer charge for bathrooms.

In the end, it is Allison that has the most explaining to do. He gave a private citizen the name and address of a couple after using official resources to track them down.

Source: MSMV

Kudos: Michael Blott

52 thoughts on “Potty Police: Tennessee Sheriff Runs Plates Of Car For Restaurant To Charge For Use Of Bathroom

  1. Randy Edwards, in another article your wife (or whatever she is to you) was quoted as complaining about privacy. Yet she got this in the news. Now everyone who wants to know can find where you live. That wasn’t smart.

    I personally don’t feel that every bathroom in every business was put there for my use. I always buy something.

  2. EastBroadwayLongBeach : VA did NOT pass a law prohibiting cohabitation They “voted to remove the law”. It had been on the books for a long time. They finally changed it, and it was removed.

  3. Also, everyone should be calling the sheriffs dept and calling for the firing of this person. He absolutely misused/abused his position. TN does NOT have a public database. You HAVE to be an officer of the law to obtain the information. No police report was filed. No crime was committed. Unless it’s okay with you, to be personally treated this way, then I suggest you phone the Houston county Sheriffs dept and call for his firing. 931-289-4614. And the restaurant involved was the Flood Zone (nice name)

  4. The dept is also blocking all comments BTW. Guess they don’t want anyone reading anything “bad” about their guys.

  5. Jim wrote:
    Fee for toilet illegal in TN
    TCA 39-17-105

    ~+~

    That pretty much says it all. Now the sheriff can be cited for violating that statute since he acted to help the restaurant owner collect the money. Plus, now the $5 debt is uncollectable.

  6. SHERIFF DARRELL R. ALLISON
    Elected 2010
    Sheriff’s Office Phone 9312894614
    Corrections Phone 9312894614
    Fax 9312895579
    3330 HIGHWAY 149, ERIN, TN 37061
    sheriffhcsoATgmailDOTcom

  7. No one is getting the whole story. The news media heard one side. The lady that needed to “go”. I know Flood Zone owners didn’t want to speak on camera, but they’ve spoken to others. This lady left the restroom in an awful and disgusting mess. That’s what the problem was, not just that she used the bathroom and didn’t buy anything. Also, why not just buy a mini ice cream come for .50?

    • Thats an out right lie its not about the $5 its the fact that the they used the law to get the address to send the bill she only washed her hands and if anyone can prove different there may be other problems

      • No matter what the woman did, legal procedures were NOT followed. Only “good ole boy” procedures. The owner of the restaurant files a complaint, the police take the complaint to the prosecutor, said prosecutor decides yay or nay on prosecuting the case. If it is a yay, then the perp is sent a letter in the mail telling them to appear in court. This was done like a back door, under the table deal. And it’s just too bad the people involved didn’t sue the sheriffs dept for giving out their info.

  8. Bron, just now saw your question. No I don’t know any of the people or places involved in this. It is not anywhere near me.

    Randy Edwards,
    Sorry to disagree, but at least part of this is indeed about the money. Here is the section of applicable Tennessee law:

    39-17-105 – Charge for use of public toilet facility prohibited.
    (a) It is an offense for a person maintaining toilet facilities available to the public to impose a charge for the use of the facility.
    (b) Each toilet facility maintained in violation of this section constitutes a separate offense.
    (c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
    [Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1.]

    A Class C misdemeanor In Tennessee carries a penalty not greater than thirty (30) days in jail or a fine not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00), or both, unless otherwise provided by statute.

  9. Crazy as it seems, Houston County needs a serious cleaning out.. I know someone who used to work there at the jail, and did her job to a “T”…. Since everyone is all related to each other (i.e… staff and inmates). Inmates were allowed to do what ever they wanted. The Jail administrator and chef deputy wanted to get rid of said female, she has a CJ degree and a very lengthy credentials to boot. Said female even asked to do ride alongs and transfer to road deputy. Said female was denied without just cause. Other jail officers who were still in their teens with no background were permitted to do ride alongs. On the 2nd day said female was employed she was asked to do a inmate transport (due to her back ground) by the previous jail administrator.
    Said female was subsequently fired over a bogus accusation of assault by a local teen. No investigation no witnesses no nothing!!! She was not liked or appreciated, simply that wanted to get rid of her!!! Talk about the Good ole boy system… said female was loyal to her job, stayed late working a double shift many a times, even came in at the last minute when other officers called out… Charges were dismissed on said female – but was denied her job back…. Sad sad sad… I heard she was A+ at her job….

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