(713) 789-3300
Bankruptcy Info Center MENU

Drunk Drivers Causing Death or Injury

1. General Rule.  A person can not discharge debts relating to death or personal injury inflicted on another person while he was unlawfully operating a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft  while intoxicated on alcohol, drugs or other substances. 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(9). It is known as the "Madd Mom" rule because the organization known as "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" lobbied Congress to enact it.       Index

2. Scope of Rule.       Index

2.1. Limited to Personal Injury Only. The rule is limited to debts for personal injury.  It does not cover debts for injury to property.       Index

2.2. Civil judgment not Required.  The scope of the original rule only prevented the discharge of civil damage awards for death or personal injuries inflicted by drunk drivers.  It did not prevent the discharge of a debt that was not reduced to a civil judgment.  In 1990 the rule was expanded significantly to eliminate the requirement that the debt must be reduced to a civil judgment.       Index

2.3. Applies in Chapter 7, 11 and 13 Cases. The original rule was also limited Chapter 7 cases.  It did not apply in Chapter 13 cases. The 1990 amendment also expanded its coverage to Chapter 7, 11 & 13 cases. 11 U.S.C. § 1328(a)(2).       Index

2.4.  Applies to Motor Vehicles, Boats and Airplanes.  The original rule was also limited to incidents involving "motor vehicles."  Before 2005, the courts did not consider boats or airplanes to be "motor vehicles" within the meaning of the statute.   In 2005 the rule was again amended to expand its coverage to the operation of a vessel (boats) and aircraft while intoxicated.       Index

3. Elements of Proof.  A creditor must prove three factual elements to establish that a debt is non-dischargeable under § 523(a)(9):       Index

(a) the debtor is civilly liable for a debt involving death or personal injury;

(b) the incident involved the operation of a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft;

(c) the operation of vehicle, boat or plane was unlawfull under state law due to the debtor's intoxication.

It is not necessary to establish that the debtor's intoxication caused the injury.  Is sufficient that the debtor was legally intoxicated, as defined by state law, while operating a vehicle in an incident that involved a personal injury.       Index


Excellent Chapter 13 Attorney

I received excellent representation from a board certified bankruptcy attorney in thorny Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case.
- C McDonald
More Reviews

Made My Bankruptcy Simple

Like most folks, I was scared about the process of filing bankruptcy. Mr. Weber made what seemed to be an incredibly complex process simple to understand. His ability to walk me through every part of the filing, and his quick turn around in answering any questions I had, continued throughout the entire five years of my Chapter 13 plan. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Mr. Weber if you ever get in the position of needing to file for bankruptcy.
- Matthew Berg
More Reviews

Strongly Recommend Mr. Weber

Mr. Weber helped me file for Ch. 13 bankruptcy. He was very nice to me and helped me through the entire process. I recommend him strongly.
- Lucia Valdez
More Reviews

Don’t Delay!

Find out why thousands trust us to help them through their bankruptcy. From following the best strategy in your particular case, to understanding how to use the system for best results, call Weber Law now for your free consultation.