Determining liability for car accidents that occur in Knoxville can often be tricky, especially when no clear cut evidence points at one particular party. In cases where suspicion as to whether or not alcohol may have been involved exists, those who are believed to have been drunk at the time of an accident may point to them not having been shown to be legally intoxicated on a sobriety tests as absolving them. By now, popular media and word of mouth likely has filled most of the general public in on the details found in Section 55-10-401 of Tennessee’s Annotated Code: that a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent is the standard for determining intoxication. 

Hidden within this standard seems to be an implication that it is permissible for one to drive after having consumed alcohol provided that his or her BAC remains under the legal limit. While one certainly could be said to be taking a big gamble by assuming that his or her BAC is below .08, technically he or she could avoid a DUI in such a scenario (the exception would be one driving a commercial vehicle; his or her BAC need only be above .04 to be charged with DUI). An important point to remember, however, is that simply because one suspected of driving under the influence did not register a reading above the legal limit, that does not absolve him or her of liability if his or her impairment caused a car accident

There may be another way to legally link local drunk driving laws to an accident even if a driver’s BAC is not above .08. Per the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the state does have an open container law. A proven violation of this law may cited when trying to assign liability in an accident.