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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 12, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Seattle woman dies in wrong-way DUI crash

DUI penalties must be more severe

My closest friend was Morgan Williams, the innocent victim killed in last week’s head-on collision with a vehicle being driven by Michael Robertson the wrong way on Highway 520 [“DUI again? Wrong-way driver kills Seattle woman,” front page, April 5]. He was a repeat DUI offender and should not have had the means to get behind the wheel, endangering all who came into his vicinity.

Not only am I incredibly sad at the loss of this wonderful woman, but I’m also incredibly frustrated that our laws and court system aren’t able to prevent these tragedies from happening.

While tougher penalties and fines may influence some people’s decisions regarding whether to get behind the wheel after drinking, those policies are based on the assumption that those people are making rational decisions.

For someone with a chronic drinking problem, there is no rational thought process. In those cases, the decision that they won’t drive needs to be made for them. We need to enact laws that place a physical barrier between them and the road.

I support Rep. Goodman’s proposal that a vehicle that has been impounded due to a DUI should not be released from the impound lot until it has been fitted with an interlock device. The cost of installation should be borne by the offender and/or the vehicle’s owner.

In addition, if someone helps the restricted driver circumvent the interlock device, either by blowing into it for them or by disabling the device, that person should be charged as an accessory and face the same punishment as the driver.

If the driver proceeds to injure or kill someone, they should both face vehicular assault or homicide charges.

Another proposed amendment calls for harsher penalties, specifically for DUI drivers driving on the wrong side of the road. This, again, is based on the assumption that the impaired driver is capable of making a rational decision. Obviously Michael Robertson was not capable of rational thought, and the threat of punishment didn’t come into play when he made his U-turn on Highway 520.

I support the proposal that makes drunken driving a felony on the third conviction rather than on the fifth, but there should be no time limit for including past offenses, as there currently is. If someone has three DUIs in his or her lifetime, that person is done driving, forever.

I encourage all Seattle Times readers to contact their state representatives as soon as possible. Call 1-800-562-6000 to make them hear your voice on House Bill 1482. The clock is ticking and this legislative session ends very shortly.

Earline Carlone, Edmonds

Comments | More in 520 bridge, crime/justice, DUI


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