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Cheers? The Drunk-Driving Exception to Discharge

NCJ Number
American Bankruptcy Law Journal Volume: 63 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1989) Pages: 213-220
L Kalevitch
Date Published
8 pages
The legislative history and Congressional intent of 11 U.S.C. 523 (a) (9) are examined in detail, emphasizing the nondischargeability in bankruptcy of a debt arising from the debtor's drunk driving.
Bankruptcy courts, called upon to act in cases involving discharge of certain debts in bankruptcy, have been confused by the ninth exception from discharge under 11 U.S.C. 523 (a). The ninth exception from discharge bars the discharge of drunk driving debts. Congress narrowed the applicability of the ninth exception by requiring that the injured party establish the debtor's ordinary civil liability and show in the record of a court proceeding that the liability arises as the result of the debtor's operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated as defined by local or State law. Until the injured party receives a judgment in a case in which it has been shown that the debtor has incurred liability while legally intoxicated and driving, the issue of the debt's dischargeability is not ripe. Any complaints for nondischargeability before this time should be dismissed without prejudice for hearing after a judgment has been rendered. 27 footnotes.