In February every year, Superbowl parties abound, in Kentucky, Indiana, and across the nation. Friends and relatives get together to enjoy the game, the commercials, food and drinks. Unfortunately for one Kentucky resident this past February, his friend enjoyed the drinks at a Superbowl party too much.
On February 5, 2012, a Tennessee resident came to Louisville to enjoy the game with some friends. After the game was over, he and a friend got in his Corvette. While on I-71, the driver lost control of the car, which ended up rolling on its top, injuring himself and killing his passenger in the car crash. It was determined that the driver had been speeding and was driving under the influence. Each of these factors alone makes it more difficult to maintain control of a vehicle; added together, they can be deadly.
At the beginning of September, 2012, the driver was convicted of wanton endangerment and driving under the influence. While his attorney asked the judge to sentence him to probation, the judge handed down a seven-year prison sentence, with a chance for shock probation in 30 to 180 days. The prosecution had argued that probation did not seem like a harsh enough punishment for killing another person. He also stated that the driver was a repeat DUI offender and would likely drive under the influence again without the proper punishment.
The prosecutor's belief that the driver would incur future DUIs was most likely based on the fact that he had been charged with DUI at least three other times in Kentucky since the 1980s and he faced drug-related charges at some point. Should the victim's family decide to pursue a civil lawsuit against the driver, they could request punitive damages, which would be an amount above and beyond what would be awarded for lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of a loved one. Punitive damages are awarded strictly to punish the defendant for his actions and to deter him from acting the same in the future. The fact that he was convicted in the criminal case would make it more likely that a judge would rule against him in a civil wrongful death as well.