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Is DUI Debt Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

Drunk driving in Arizona is an expensive mistake that can lead you with a mountain of debt.  Unfortunately, no amount of online debt consolidation can help you out as it is not possible to repay such debts through a consolidation program.   Successfully filing for bankruptcy can be a challenge for those who have been convicted of DUI, and some cases may not be relieved by a Chapter 7 filing.

There are essentially two separate bankruptcy statutes that concern non-dischargability of drunk driving debts. The first concerns bodily injury or death.  Under Section 523 (a)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code, “death or personal injury caused by the debtor’ operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance,” then the debt will be deemed non-dischargeable.  The purpose of this law was to ensure that those who caused personal injury or death by drunk driving do not escape liability under the bankruptcy laws.

The second type of non-dischargeablilty for a drunk driving debt occurs in the context of property damage if it is determined willful and malicious pursuant to section 523 (a)(6) of the bankruptcy code.  If a utility pole is taken out, a fence, another car damaged without personal injuries, or some other property damage claim listed in a bankruptcy case, exclusive of any personal injuries, then those debts will be wiped out unless the creditor timely brings an action in the bankruptcy court and prevails.

Further, under a Chapter 7 there may be other grounds as well that provide for non-dischargeability drunk driving debts, depending upon the circumstances. For example, certain government fines, court expenses, restitution, and other drunk driving related issues may not be dischargeable.


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