Being married to someone who drinks and drives can turn your life into a rollercoaster of sadness, anger and fear. It’s bad enough that you have to worry about when they will get in a wreck and die or when they will go to jail, and to make matters worse than you may have realized, you are at risk of being held personally responsible for your spouse’s cations, even if you have no ability to stop them. And, if your spouse is convicted of DUI, you can expect it to increase your insurance rates.
If Your Spouse is Sued for Causing an Accident
If your spouse causes an accident that results in serious injuries or death, they can be sued. And that lawsuit can reach right into all the money and assets that you have worked so hard for, whether your spouse contributed to the accumulation of those assets or not.
It can happen in two ways. If you live in a community property state, all of the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage belong to both of you, and that includes debts created by a lawsuit. In other states, you can still lose anything that is in both of your names.
When You Can Personally Be Sued for Your Spouse’s Drunk Driving
Under some circumstances, you can be held liable for injuries or death that you spouse causes by their drinking and driving. And, depending on wrongful death laws in your state, you can be held liable if your spouse gets drunk and dies in a fatal crash. It can happen if you let your spouse drive your vehicle, meaning that you fail to prevent them from using your car while drunk. It’s a legal theory called negligent entrustment. It can be hard to prove, but it is a risk you need to know about.
If you are dealing with a spouse who drives drunk on a regular basis or who is being sued over a one-time event, you need the help of an experienced attorney. Your attorney can explain all of the options you have for protecting yourself, in your state, including the pros and cons of those options.