Many clients come to our office hoping to discharge or eliminate a specific debt. While filing a personal bankruptcy can allow you to discharge the majority of your unsecured debt, there are certain types of debt that are non-dischargeable. One type of debt that is excluded by law from being eligible for discharge is one arising from the “death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s 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.” 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(9).
For example, if you were in a car accident and the court found you guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) and you owe a debt to the victim in the crash, the debt cannot be discharged. Generally speaking, the law does not permit you to discharge awards of restitution, fines, or penalties that have been imposed by a court of law.
Pursuant to Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code, a party such as an insurance company seeking subrogation damages, can file an objection to your discharge. If a debt arises from the “willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity,” the debt is excepted from discharge under section 523(a)(6).
You should also be aware that most bankruptcy courts will abide by the state law of the jurisdiction that prosecuted you for the DUI charges in determining your liability. In other words, the blood alcohol limits of the state where you received your DUI will apply, not the state where you file your bankruptcy case. This prevents a debtor from seeking bankruptcy relief in a state with higher blood alcohol level requirements in an attempt to escape liability.
If you have a specific debt or an overwhelming amount of debt, we can help you understand how filing for bankruptcy protection will help. The personal bankruptcy process can be simple and effortless if you retain an attorney who will explain the steps to you. Ms. Anderson is dedicated to walking you through each step, explaining the process along the way. At The Law Office of Diane Anderson, we are determined to help our clients obtain the best results possible.