August 22, 2013 at 7:21 AM
Take it further
Washington State University’s new alcohol policies are a step in the right direction. [“Editorial: Campus drinking: ‘Cougs looking out for Cougs,’” Opinion, Aug. 19.]
The concept of training students what to do when a friend is sick is a terrific idea, as a majority of alcohol-poisoning deaths occur when friends let an inebriated student “sleep it off.”
Realize, however, that schools nationwide have adopted countless alcohol-prevention programs and initiatives with little long-term success. One program with documented success is Soteer.
In line with WSU President Elson Floyd’s call of “Cougs taking care of Cougs,” Soteer focuses on “students helping students stay safe,” and takes this idea one step further by training students in bystander intervention, who then attend parties to apply their knowledge and change the trajectory of a student’s night before a problem occurs. Soteer trains its monitors in signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse, intervention techniques, rape awareness and general safety.
This approach may compliment WSU’s wonderful and thoughtful new policies.
Paul Millman, CEO of Soteer, LLC, White Plains, N.Y.
May 6, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Alcoholism must be treated like a disease
In my opinion, implementing stiffer DUI penalties, such mandatory jail time, is not the answer for drunken drivers [“Despair. Pain. Resolve.,” page one, May 1]. I want to preface my comments by saying I had a brother who was an alcoholic and ended up committing suicide, and now a family member who got picked up for DUI.
Breathalyzers, financial penalties and jail time are neither the fix nor deterrents. I can guarantee my brother wouldn’t have cared.
Alcoholism is a disease and needs to be treated as such. It’s like cancer; early detection and treatment may save the person. How about making every place (like bars) require people to take a breath test before leaving? How about more education about the effects of alcohol shown in schools?
We’ve become a nation that romanticizes drinking. Look at any ad for alcohol; it shows the person having fun or finding a beautiful person.
Spend money for mandatory treatment centers — rehab centers to specifically treat the problem. Deep down, alcoholics have no intention of hurting anyone. They’re just not cognizant of their situation.
Take a look at Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn He got a DUI; do you think he really intended to be driving?
The actions being talked about for DUI aren’t going to fix the problem. Take it from someone who has seen the worst with alcohol. It’s a disease, so attack it as such.
Richard Charlson, Curlew
May 4, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Don’t subsidize craft distilleries
I am most distressed by the craft distilleries bill [“Craft distilleries bill,” Business, May 3]. This bill subsidizes rich hobbyists and a line of business that we don’t really have any state interest in.
We won’t drink less booze and we will not be collecting the taxes for the state. Why not collect the taxes from regular big distillers and subsidize education or parks with this tax money?
This isn’t a public health, police, park or transportation issue, in which maybe a little juice from the state makes a difference.
We need the tax money and craft distillers need to figure out how to pay the taxes because we should not be subsidizing them.
Peter Lance, Kenmore
April 13, 2013 at 8:03 AM
Alert drivers when DUI offender is nearby
Solution to stop drunken drivers before they leave someone dead [“Governor, lawmakers working on changes to state DUI laws,” NWWednesday, April 10]:
• Change the “privilege” of driving to allow persons convicted of DUI to be stopped at any time and given a sobriety test.
• Require those persons to carry wireless-identification devices at all times when driving or riding in motor vehicles.
• Make the wireless reader available as a plug-in to smartphones so everyone knows when a person who has been convicted of a DUI is nearby.
• Don’t water down the enforcement details to make steps one through three impotent.
David Smead, Seattle
Make first offense felony; it’s worth the money
So “getting aggressive” about DUI means giving people three opportunities to kill others via drunken driving instead of five (five DUIs is the current felony level)? [“Governor, lawmakers working on changes to state DUI laws,” NWWednesday, April 10]. How about making the first offense a felony? How about zero tolerance?
My dad was on his way to work when he was hit head-on by a drunken driver while stopped at an intersection. He was injured, but survived.
In the 20 years since, he has seen three of his children get married, welcomed five grandchildren and enjoyed family birthdays, reunions, school band concerts, Veteran’s Day assemblies and countless other ordinary and extraordinary moments with loved ones. We were lucky.
Making the first DUI a felony would put teeth into state DUI laws. We’d have to build more prisons to hold offenders, but maybe, just maybe, when people see that the state means business, they’ll choose not to risk driving under the influence.
So, Gov. Inslee and friends — tax me, please. I’m more than happy to pay the price to get these selfish fools off the roads, because the cost of wrist-slapping DUI laws is already too high, and no amount of money can bring back a life taken by a drunken driver.
Beth Shepard, Kent
April 11, 2013 at 8:02 AM
The key is early treatment
The article about DUI laws in the state of Washington was informative, but it lacked specific proposals for what works in treating alcoholism and addiction [“Do state DUI laws go far enough?” front page, March 31].
I am a recovering alcoholic with over 18 years of sobriety, a lawyer, a husband, a father and a former public member of the Medical Quality Assurance Commission. I am also a volunteer mentor and have been a lecturer at both the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Hazelden in Newberg, Ore.
When an individual receives a DUI citation, there is a high probability that alcohol is a problem in his or her life. This is when intervention must occur, not after a conviction in a court of law.
Upon the issuance of a citation, there needs to be an alcohol assessment within 30 days by a licensed facility. If there is an indication of even early-stage addiction, an interlock ignition switch must be installed on the suspect’s vehicle.
Additionally, he or she must be mandated into a two-year program of random urinalysis, have documented daily attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for 90 days, and have written proof of weekly interface with either a sponsor or a counselor, all at personal expense.
Accountability. The key component is early intervention and treatment. We do not wait until a person has terminal cancer before initiating treatment; it begins as soon as the disease is discovered. The same approach must be used in treating alcoholism.
The time has come for our legislators to acknowledge the fact that alcoholism is a primary, progressive and fatal disease. It is also a disease that can be effectively treated at an early stage. I am living, working, happy proof that alcoholics can and do get well. And I never had a DUI.
Gregory G. Rockwell, Seattle
April 2, 2013 at 4:10 AM
Public officials have failed to protect the public from drunken drivers
As one who has lived within two blocks of the horrendous DUI-instigated crash and deaths last Monday, I was outraged and discouraged by the statement of one of our state legislators in the excellent article Sunday addressing state DUI laws [“Do state DUI laws go far enough?” page one, March 31].
I have 24 years of service in the Army, 21 as military police officer, and have seen more than a few DUI-related incidents. The statement of Rep. Roger Goodman, the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, “I don’t know if we could have prevented a tragedy like that,” exemplifies why our officials have failed to protect the public from people who appear to easily flout the law and drive whenever, wherever and in whatever condition they please.
That drunken driver should have never have been allowed to remain on the street after his last arrest. At the very least, impound the offender’s car and release it only after the offender has paid the impound fees and paid to have an ignition interlock device installed. To anyone with an ounce of common sense, we could have done a lot more to save two lives.
Your solution, Mr. Goodman, to think of how to be “smart,” is precisely the problem that prevents us from reaching effective solutions and saving lives that do not have to be lost. Passing laws that are not enforced and wringing our hands over preventable tragedies is a tragedy in itself.
– John P. Bordenet, Redmond
Legislators should consider wheel boots
Just as with gun control, steps to deal with the incidences of DUIs on the road will never be perfect. But as with gun control, that’s no excuse for failing to enact reasonable measures that can reduce the carnage.
I suggest putting wheel boots on all vehicles owned by persons whose sentences include the requirement that breath-tested ignition locks be installed. Part of the fee for said installation would be a certification that the lock is working properly before removal of the wheel boot. Boots themselves would require a per-day fee to compensate localities for the expense of acquiring, storing and maintaining them. Ten dollars a day would probably do it.
Legislators should also consider a boot process for people arrested for DUI, like the woman who scurried back to her car, still drunk, to drive it into an innocent fellow citizen. Rules for pre-conviction use of such a process would probably have to be less strict, of course, but surely there’s a place for society to protect itself from such outrageous and costly irresponsibility.
– George Randels, Port Townsend
An engineering solution
If engineers can create smart cars that don’t get into accidents, they can also create devices that will lock the ignition of a car when a person is intoxicated so they can’t drive.
Courts can make it mandatory for every car.
– Wendy Haber, Seattle
April 1, 2013 at 4:00 PM
Take away the vehicle
Why do lawmakers think a habitual drunken driver is going to follow the law? [“Do state DUI laws go far enough?” page one, March 31.]
People such as Mark Mullan have no regard for the law and no regard for anyone other than themselves. Mullan thumbed his nose at court orders. He even had the gall to arrive at a DUI hearing drunk. He drove without the ignition lock the court ordered he have installed. He drove after his license was taken away.
Are there really any drunken drivers who stop driving when their license is taken away? It’s time to start impounding the vehicles of drunken drivers.
In reference to the deaths of Dennis and Judy Schulte and serious injury of their daughter-in-law and baby grandson, state House Public Safety Committee Chairman Roger Goodman said, “I don’t know if we could have prevented a tragedy like that.”
You can prevent it by taking away the vehicle. Taking away the license doesn’t stop the drunken driver from getting behind the wheel. Without his truck, Mullan wouldn’t have been able to mow down, maim, kill and destroy a happy family.
– Debbie Wilson, Everett
Stronger punishments needed
How many times do innocent people have to keep losing their lives because of drunken drivers in not only this state but across this great nation?
It is really distressing to continuously see drivers with multiple DUI convictions still out on our roads. The laws need to change, and they need to be tougher.
Something has to give because this is getting out of control, and maybe with stronger punishments some of these repeat offenders will change their ways and our roads can be safer for all.
– Jeff Swanson, Everett
Washington state has one of the toughest DUI laws in the country but if they’re not enforced what good are they? Mark Mullan had 5 DUIs. How come nobody followed up to see if an ignition lock device was installed? He just ignored the judge’s order and nobody checked?
This is an inexcusable and unacceptable tragedy. Mullan needs to be incarcerated and helped with his addiction.
My prayers go out to the remaining Schulte family.
– Carol Soderberg, Redmond
March 29, 2013 at 4:36 PM
The driver, not the street, was the problem
Reading the story about the drunken driver who killed two visitors and critically injured their daughter and grandson just broke my heart [“The road to tragedy: alcohol, second chances,” page one, March 27]. I’ve lived here all my life and know how hard it is to cross many streets since most people don’t stop, even though they can see you.
That said, I was infuriated reading the comments from our elected officials about what to do to make the street safer where this took place. In the article it is noted that “Judges in both Seattle and Snohomish County even said that Mullan could drive, providing he installed an alcoholic-sensitive ignition lock on his pickup. He never did.” Someone needs to explain why his truck wasn’t impounded until he installed the ignition lock. If the law doesn’t allow this, then the law needs to be changed.
This is such a simple solution I don’t know why no one has thought of it before. We don’t need a complicated solution. The problem wasn’t the street, it was the driver.
–Frank Lippman, Seattle
March 28, 2013 at 5:09 PM
Individuals should consider abandoning alcohol entirely
The latest fatalities caused by the drunken driver in Seattle make me weep [“The road to tragedy: alcohol, second chances,” page one, March 27].
Weighing the carnage on the roads, the rapes, assaults and murders committed by people under alcohol’s influence, as well as the ruined marriages, devastated families, lost jobs and destroyed health for those who drink to excess, can one on balance legitimately claim that the fleeting pleasures of alcohol consumption are worth the terrible personal and social costs?
We all know that Prohibition failed and that outlawing alcohol’s consumption doesn’t work. But society will still be better off for each individual who chooses to listen to the “better angels of our nature” and simply chooses not to drink. This concept is not obsolete.
–Patrick L. McKenzie, Sammamish
March 27, 2013 at 5:07 PM
Action should preclude tragedy
The tragedy on Northeast 75th Street was a needless event [“The road to tragedy: alcohol, second chances,” page one, March 27]. The city has known of the speeding issues on Northeast 75th. The driver was known to have alcohol issues and never installed an alcohol-sensitive ignition lock mandated by the court.
When the court mandates something, whose responsibility is it to ensure it is done? Two examples of the government failing to protect its citizens. Killing two people outright, critically injuring two more, indicates the driver was going way too fast.
I wrote to the Seattle Police Department a few months ago with my concerns about the speeding and lawlessness on Northeast 75th. I was reassured that patrols would be stepped up, yet never saw anyone pulled over for speeding. One article referenced a study finding 85 percent of westbound drivers were driving 37 mph or less [“For neighborhood, heavy traffic on N.E. 75th a growing concern,” News], but 37 mph is still speeding. I wrote in my letter to the SPD that a tragedy was waiting to happen. Unfortunately, that was a self-fulfilling prophecy and a family is destroyed due to inactions of the city and the actions of an individual.
Why does it take a tragedy to spur action?
–Karen Kilian, Seattle
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