Criminal punishments are meted out according to the contents and limits of laws. The penalties are not necessarily satisfactory to victims or their family members. A Cook County judge or jury's decision can seem unfair compared to a victim's lifetime disability or death from an accident caused by a drunk driver.
Medical costs and emotional torment can follow a victim into the future long after a defendant is sentenced. Pain, disfigurement and inability to work even may outlast the length of a defendant's punishment.
The family of a bicyclist who was killed by a drunk driver in Rockdale left a Will County sentencing hearing feeling justice had not been served. The 32-year-old defendant stated that she was "flawed" and "human" during an apology before the victim's widow and brother.
The defendant received an eight-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI, a term that was five years shorter than the possible maximum sentence. Family members later expressed dismay and anger at the ruling.
The 49-year-old victim suffered severe head trauma when the woman's car rear-ended his bike last June. The man lingered on life support for nearly two weeks before he died.
A chemical test showed the defendant's blood alcohol content nearly doubled the state legal limit of 0.08. The BAC reading of over 0.14 was registered five hours after the fatality. A background check revealed the woman also had a previous DUI conviction from 2006.
A wrongful death claim might help the disappointed relatives feel closure. A jury in a liability lawsuit could confirm the defendant was not only guilty of breaking laws but was also negligent. Instead of a criminal penalty, the defendant would pay the family for the harm she inflicted upon them and the victim.
Compensation might be possible for medical bills, the bicyclist's pain and suffering, funeral costs, lost wages and the family's deprivation of a loved one.
heraldnews.suntimes.com, "8-year sentence for Rockdale woman in fatal DUI crash" Janet Lundquist, Jun. 28, 2013