Holidays bring police officers out in full force. Whether the holiday is the Fourth of July or New Years Eve, the number of drivers on the road who are under the influence always seems to rise. As an attorney with Meshbesher & Spence, Andrew Davick has personally seen the toll a DWI can take on a person. He recently stopped by KROC-AM to discuss insurance coverage as it applies to an accident that happens while driving under the influence.

Insurance Coverage
How does insurance apply in a DWI-related accident? It depends on the state. In Minnesota, a person’s automobile insurance policy will typically cover a driver for compensatory damages. This means if a person causes an accident while under the influence and the other person is injured, those injuries will be covered under the limits of the driver’s policy.
Does the insurance also cover lost wages and pain and suffering claims? Usually those items will be covered. What aren’t covered, however, are punitive damages. When an automobile accident happens in Minnesota and alcohol is involved, the injured party can pursue the claim through the court system. Typically, this means a lawsuit will be initiated. At some point the injured party can go to the court and ask to amend the claim to include punitive damages.
What are punitive damages? The idea behind punitive damages is that when a person engages in conduct with a deliberate disregard for the safety of others, the injured individual has the right to pursue a punishment against the person causing that injury. Being over .08 and getting behind the wheel qualifies as deliberate disregard in these cases.

Stronger DWI Laws
What does this mean for someone who registers more than .16? It increases the punishment for the person, as well as increasing issues involving licensure. This can also mean fines and potential jail time.
How much higher is .16? The threshold for .16 is surprisingly not very high. It depends on the person’s body size, but a person with only six or seven beers in a two-hour window could easily blow a .16.

State Variances
Do the laws vary from state to state? Yes, it can vary quite a bit. You have much stricter punishments in terms of jail time, increased fees, loss of licensure, and forfeiture of vehicles, depending on the level of intoxication.
There are other penalties a person can experience as a result of a DUI, correct? There are many consequences drivers don’t even think about before getting behind the wheel. For example, you may want to go fishing in Canada, but with a DUI on your record, you may be denied because of it.
What if someone is pulled over for a DWI while traveling? The driver would fall under that state’s rules. Whether you actually forfeit your license would be up to that state, but generally you’ll be subject to punishment under that state’s statutes, whether that means fines, jail time, or forfeiture of vehicle. An out-of-state conviction can also be more costly because the defendant will be required to travel back and forth for court dates.
If you have questions about DWI or any other legal issues, contact the attorneys at Meshbesher & Spence, 612.339.9121