Drunk Driving Exclusion in Automobile Insurance Policies

Drunk driving or driving while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is illegal. Public policy does not permit a criminal to profit from a criminal act. Commonly, insurance companies include a clause in their automobile insurance policies that prohibit an insured from receiving damages for bodily injuries or death that occurred in an automobile accident caused by drunk driving. A drunk driving exclusion can be a separate clause in the policy or drunk driving could be excluded under the policy’s crime exclusion.

Whether one is attempting to obtain benefits from an automobile liability policy or a life insurance policy, it is important to determine whether state law considers death resulting from an insured’s having driven drunk accidental. The insurance policy exclusion should also be reviewed to determine whether coverage is barred if a death occurs while the insured is driving drunk or if the death was caused by driving drunk.

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A growing number of states have decided that persons, who drive under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, are excluded from no-fault coverage. In those cases, blood samples, which would not be admissible in a criminal proceeding, may be admissible in a civil trial against the insured. While some states do not specifically exclude no-fault coverage for injuries incurred while driving drunk, an insured could be precluded from recovering personal injury protection benefits if injuries were occurred while the insured was committing a high misdemeanor or felony, for example, driving while intoxicated.