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4 Harv. L. & Pol'y Rev. 427 (2010)
Restructuring Insurance Coverage for Drunk Drivers

handle is hein.journals/harlpolrv4 and id is 431 raw text is: Restructuring Insurance Coverage for
Drunk Drivers
Avi Perry*
While the gravity and prevalence of drunk driving in the United States
are well documented, the actual facts are still startling. Someone is killed
due to drunk driving approximately every forty-five minutes.' In 2008
alone, there were nearly 11,773 fatalities produced by drunk driving acci-
dents.2 At least half of all motor vehicle deaths are a product of intoxica-
tion.3 About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-
related crash at some point in their lives; in 2001, drunk driving accidents
injured more than half a million people, an average of nearly one injury
every minute.4 Nearly one and a half million drivers were arrested in 2006
for driving under the influence.5
Despite these alarming statistics, drunk drivers usually are insulated
from at least some of the consequences of their actions. This Essay will
explore how automobile insurance has protected drunk drivers from civil
liability for their criminal conduct. Under the prevailing tort law regime in
the United States, tortfeasors are liable for the costs of injuries to victims if
they fail to exercise due care. In order to safeguard their assets (and in order
to comply with state mandatory insurance laws), drivers must purchase auto-
mobile liability insurance. Using the example of Connecticut, this Essay
will argue that the availability of such insurance conflicts with important
state policies, even if it furthers others.6 A recurrent theme in this Essay is
that the gap between the criminal and civil consequences of illegal conduct
should be narrow, if not nonexistent. This Essay will conclude by proposing
that the existing automobile insurance framework be changed so that insur-
ers are authorized to seek reimbursement from drunk drivers for the value of
claims paid to tort victims. This proposal would preserve victim compensa-
tion while forcing drunk drivers to bear the true costs of their actions.
* Yale Law School, J.D. 2010; Yale College, B.A. 2005. The author thanks Professors
Peter Kochenburger and George Priest for their guidance and suggestions. And as always,
thanks to Julia for her support.
'Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Statistics, http://www.madd.org/Professionals/Law-En-
forcement/Statistics/AllStats.aspx#STAT1 (on file with the Harvard Law School Library).
'Frank A. Sloan et al., Effects of Tort Liability and Insurance on Heavy Drinking and
Drinking and Driving, 38 J.L. & EcON. 49, 50 (1995).
' Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Victim Services Statistics, http://www.madd.org/Vic-
tim-ServiceslVictim-Services/Statistics.aspx (on file with the Harvard Law School Library).
5 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, supra note 1.
6 Connecticut was chosen because of its historical connection with the insurance industry,
but the arguments below apply with equal force to the majority of states.

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