Ask the attorney: Does Car Insurance Cover Drunk Driving?


Does Car Insurance Cover Drunk Driving?

Michael Rubinstein, Esq.

Drunk driving is a serious problem. Despite the rise of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, crashes caused by drunk drivers still occur in Los Angeles. As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, I have represented victims who were hurt by drunk drivers. A question I receive frequently is whether these cases are covered by insurance.

The reason for the question probably has to do with a known exclusion applicable to insurance policies: intentional criminal acts. Insurance covers negligence. It does not typically cover intentional behavior.

For example, if a driver intentionally drove into a crowd of pedestrians, the exclusion for intentional behavior might apply. But if the driver didn’t realize that he had a red light and hit a pedestrian crossing on a green light, ch”v, that could be a different story. The latter is an example of negligence, not criminal behavior.

In the DUI crash cases that I’ve handled in Los Angeles, auto insurance was available to cover the damages. For the most part, insurance companies view drunk driving crashes as negligence, not intentional criminal conduct.

Of course, that’s not necessarily how law enforcement views things. Driving under the influence is a serious violation of the law and can lead to arrest, imprisonment, and prosecution. But on the civil side, auto insurance typically covers DUI cases when a drunk driver causes a crash that injures someone else.

Sometimes, drunk driving cases can lead to punitive damages – that is, damages intended to punish the driver for driving under the influence of alcohol. Usually, insurance does not cover punitive damages. Punitive damages are a difficult subject. Their applicability is highly fact specific to each case.

If you’ve consumed alcohol, don’t get behind the wheel! Call a friend, a taxi, or use Uber or Lyft. It could save a life.

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles Continue to Rise

Pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles are going up, not down. In February, The Los Angeles Times reported that pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles rose for the third straight year. 2017 had 16% more pedestrian deaths than 2016. These are dramatic increases from 2015.

The numbers keep going up, despite Mayor Garcetti’s Vision Zero plan. Vision Zero seeks to completely eliminate pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles by the year 2025. In response to the increase in Los Angeles pedestrian deaths, the City Council recently released a list of speed limit reductions on many major Los Angeles streets.

The speed limit is now 35 miles per hour on these streets. A list of the affected streets can be viewed by visiting:

Additionally, LAPD will be targeting many of these streets for increased traffic enforcement. Officers will be looking for illegal cell phone use and speeding.

Stay safe as you walk out and about in our beautiful city.

Wishing all a chag kasher v’sameach and safe travels!

Michael Rubinstein is a Los Angeles based personal injury and accident attorney. He may be reached by visiting, or by calling 213-293-6075.