Insurance Claim Denied in Drunk Driving Death Case

As reported by Thomas Egan in the June 11, 2012 edition of Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly, the U.S. District Court has denied coverage in a drunk driving – death resulting case. The case involved a car accident in Smithfield, Rhode Island in which the driver was killed. The driver's blood alcohol level was .32, the legal limit is .08. The driver's estate filed an accidental death claim with the insurance company. The insurance company denied the claim claiming the death was not accidental because the man chose to drink and drive. The U.S. District Court agreed with the insurance company and upheld the denial of the claim.

Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, 31-27-2.2, drunk driving – death resulting is defined as when the death of any person other than the operator ensues as a proximate result of an injury received by the operation of any vehicle, the operator of which is under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, toluene, or any controlled substance as defined in chapter 28 of title 21, or any combination of these, the person so operating the vehicle shall be guilty of "driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, resulting in death".

The penalties if convicted include every person convicted of a first violation shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than five (5) years and for not more than fifteen (15) years, in any unit of the adult correctional institutions in the discretion of the sentencing judge, by a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and his or her license to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked for a period of five (5) years. The license privilege shall not be reinstated until evidence satisfactory to the administrator of the division of motor vehicles establishes that no grounds exist which would authorize the refusal to issue a license, and until the person gives proof of financial responsibility pursuant to chapter 32 of this title.

(ii) In addition, the person convicted may be required to successfully complete alcohol or drug treatment in a program of their choice, at their own expense, as authorized by a judge of the superior court, and may successfully complete the program before any license to operate a motor vehicle is renewed.

If you or a family member have been charged with drunk driving (DUI) – death resulting, drunk driving or refusal to submit to a chemical test, please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at

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