A tragic news story out of Sacramento, CA serves as a reminder of the deadly consequences which can result from one’s decision to drive while under the influence.

According to local news reports, the California Highway Patrol advised that a cyclist and both occupants of an SUV were killed recently, when the driver of the vehicle drifted across 2 lanes and collided with a cyclist who was riding in a designated bicycle lane.  The cyclist was reportedly thrown approximately 100 feet from the point of impact, and was killed.  Witnesses reported seeing the Chevy Tahoe strike the cyclist from behind and then proceed to slam into a tree, killing both the driver of the Tahoe and the passenger.  While the accident happened in the early afternoon, around 2:30 pm, the driver is suspected to have been under the influence at the time of the crash.

While the facts of the accident alone serve as a chilling reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving, the consequences of an accident such as this can affect the perpetrator in ways you may not initially suspect.  How, you may ask?  Look to the Bankruptcy Code.  While most “negligence” claim gives rise to a “debt” (created by the legal claim or judgment) which is dischargeable in bankruptcy, there are some circumstances where the debt is not dischargeable.  Injuries which result from DWI are one example.  In the specific circumstance from this crash, this distinction may not be significant, as the driver was also killed.  But, if the driver had survived, the situation may have been very different.  In such an event, the financial damages to the survivors of those killed could be monumental and would almost certainly leave the driver with inadequate insurance coverage.  If the at fault driver were relatively young, she may well find her wages garnished for life and her savings gutted, all because she made the reckless and deadly decision to get behind the wheel of her car after drinking.