Punitive damages are a special kind of damage award or a financial award that a jury can impose on a drunk driver. So, they are given by a jury after a trial. And, the purpose of a punitive damage is to punish the driver. They don’t have any relationship to the harm or the loss that someone suffers as the victim of a drunk driving accident. They are purely punishment.
Typically, they are not covered by insurance. So, if the drunk driver has the standard auto coverage, for instance, most auto policies are not going to pay punitive damages. But, the drunk driver personally is responsible for punitive damages because drunk driving is considered a voluntary act that they have taken which is willful and intentional and that is the conduct that makes them responsible for punitive damages.