Former Nascar Ultra Motorsports pit crew chief, Timothy Kohuth, 49, pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Murder last week in Iredell County Superior Court. As a result, he will spend at least the next 9 years in jail. The maximum he could serve is 12 years. The plea deal arises out of the fatal crash Kohuth caused in 2008.
On July 31, 2008, Kohuth drank to the point he was severely intoxicated and then drove a rollback wrecker on Brawley School Road, crossed the center line, and then collided with a vehicle driven by Wesley Worden. The head-on impact killed Mr. Worden instantly and severely injured his wife, Gail.
At the plea deal hearing in court, District Attorney Sarah Kirkman said, "Witnesses said he got out of the truck and a 24-ounce beer fell out of his lap." After the crash, EMS took Kohuth to the hospital, but he refused to take either a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in his blood. State Troopers sought and obtained a search warrant and forced Kohuth to submit to a blood test. Approximately six hours after the fatal crash and after receiving a substantial amount of IV fluids, the test showed Kohuth's blood alcohol level to be .08, the legal limit in North Carolina.
The hospital also drew blood from Kohuth immediately after he was admitted, and that blood test showed his BAC to be .43, more than five times the legal limit.
Kohuth also had two prior DWI convictions and a Boating While Intoxicated conviction in the two years prior to this crash. Due to those convictions, Kohuth should not have been driving unless the vehicle he operated was equipped with an alcohol interlock device. The interlock devices require the driver to blow into a tube prior to starting the vehicle's engine. If the device detects any alcohol from the driver's breath, then the engine will not start.
The large truck driven by Kohuth at the time of this crash did not have such a device and was registered to "Tk Tech & Prep" the name of the auto restoration company in Morrisville, NC owned by Kohuth. Driving another vehicle is just one way to get around the interlock devices that are issued to some drunk drivers. I have previously written about other problems with similar programs.
Now that the criminal phase of this case is over, the civil phase may begin. Because Kohuth killed one person and seriously injured another as a result of driving while drunk, he faces a potential wrongful death claim and a separate claim for serious personal injury. While no amount of money could ever compensate the victims of this horrible incident and while it doesn't sound like Kohuth has an money himself, a large civil judgment might ensure that, after he gets out of jail, he never has the money to buy another vehicle, it might draw more attention to the serious deficiencies in the alcohol interlock program, and it might just save another person's life. In North Carolina, there is a cap on punitive damages in all civil cases except for those involving a drunk driver. Click here to view other posts dealing with wrongful death claims.
Davis Law Group represents the victims and survivors of car and truck crashes caused by those who choose to drive while impaired. Attorney Brian Davis takes a hands-on approach in every case, methodically turning over each and every stone to make sure that each client receives the best possible results. Mr. Davis is AV rated by Martindale-Hubble; he has been selected as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in North Carolina by The American Trial Lawyers Association; he is an invited member of The Best Lawyers In America, and he has been selected as a Super Lawyer for 2011.