Surviving CMA Fest: 8 Tips From A Criminal Defense Attorney

Nashville is set to host its summer tradition of CMA Fest, which will welcome over one hundred and fifty thousand country music fans to the downtown area. With such a concentration of people to the downtown area, the Nashville Metropolitan Police will also be out in large numbers.

As native Nashvillians, we know this event can be a great time to enjoy the best country music in the world. However, your weekend can get ruined in no time with one wrong decision. As criminal defense attorneys, we get a lot of calls after CMA Fest has ended from people who are arrested or cited and are being forced to make an unplanned trip back to the Music City.

To help you avoid getting in trouble at CMA Fest and having to make this unexpected trip back to Nashville, we have compiled a list of 8 tips to help you have a safe and incident free 2016 CMA Fest.


  1. Don’t Drink And Drive.
    With over 150,000 people in the downtown area during CMA Fest and the limited number of hotel rooms downtown, not everyone can stay at a hotel within walking distance of all the festivities. The police know this. When it is time to head back to the hotel after going out on lower Broadway, utilize Uber, Lyft, JoyRide or cabs to get home safely. This will be much cheaper than getting a DUI charge.
  2. Don’t Hop A Fence.
    We know you really want to see your favorite star live and that line is really, really long, but wait to get in. Security guards will drop what they are doing for the opportunity to tackle you and hold you until the police can get there. Even if you have a ticket and didn’t want to wait you can be charged with criminal trespassing. If you have been drinking, you may also expect an unwarranted public intoxication charge as well.
  3. Listen To The Bouncer.
    You know how you get annoyed really quickly when things are crazy at work? Yep, know think how that bouncer feels during CMA Fest. If you are asked to leave a bar by a bouncer, it is best to just go. Otherwise, bouncers are known to prosecute patrons who get rowdy in order to cover their own actions which usually include a punch or two. Trust us, there are plenty of other bars you can go to and it isn’t worth the charges that follow if you choose not to leave.
  4. Hold It In.
    You are in a huge crowd, have had a few beverages and really need to go and that line for the porta-johns is longer than Billy Ray Cyrus’ hair. Just wait it out. There is no public place to go in downtown that won’t be viewable. A public indecency or public intoxication charge isn’t worth it. Plan ahead or find a designated spot.
  5. Don’t Cuss At The Officers.
    Remember number 3 where I talked about how annoyed people get when things are really busy at work? That also goes for the Metro Nashville Police. They are hit with the task of making sure you and every other person at CMA Fest is safe and that can be a pretty arduous task. If they ask you to move along or any other direction, just nod and say thank you.
  6. Walk Away From The Drunk Guy.
    No, I’m not talking about your friend that had too many Coronas on 2nd, I’m referring to the guy that keeps giving you the surly look and is trying to pick a fight. Yes, I believe you could take him, but it’s definitely not worth the hassle. There are a lot of cameras in downtown Nashville and a lot of witnesses. An assault charge can be very serious, so walk away from that guy.
  7. It’s Not A Petting Zoo.
    Nashville officers will be out on horses. No, do not try and pet the horses. Some officers may be nice and not care if you tap Ole Silver on the nose, but others may not take to kindly at it. And just as a precaution, the answer is no, the officer will definitely not let you ride the horse. Ask Tim McGraw!
  8. Pace Yourself.
    It’s a four-day festival and the weather is supposed to reach the 90s each day. Stay in it for the long haul by drinking plenty of water and finding shade. Drinking a large amount, mixed with lack of water or food could result in some unwanted consequences. If you black out, then you’ve read these tips for nothing and will be waking up in a hospital or jail.

Most importantly, have fun. CMA Fest is a great time to watch the best country music acts in the world in one of the best cities in the country. Enjoy the events with your friends and family, but use your common sense and don’t let a lapse in judgment ruin your time at CMA Fest.


Joseph Fuson is a criminal defense attorney at Freeman & Fuson Law in Nashville, Tennessee. Call our office at (615) 298-7272 for a consultation.

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