Letter: Crack down on DUI offenses

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Having read “Vancouver woman gets 4 years for fatal hit-and-run” (Dec. 9, The Columbian), about the conviction of Jessica Lyn Bankhead for leaving the scene of an accident that killed a pedestrian, I can’t help but think it is time to amend the penalties for DUI.

The story states that Bankhead was found guilty of DUI in 2004, 2006 and 2011 and had a ignition interlock installed in 2016. Four DUI offenses, and still allowed the privilege to drive.

I’ve lived in states where such repeat DUI offenses would lead to long-term suspensions, if not permanent revocation of driving privileges. I resided in a South American country where a DUI is taken far more seriously than here in Washington. Conviction of killing someone while DUI would mandate a much longer incarceration, up to life in prison.

I encountered a local gentleman convicted of DUI who was required to have the ignition interlock installed on his vehicle. He made it adequately clear how easy it was to defeat the device, or to drive a different vehicle with no interlock.

The time has come for the vehicle code to be amended, perhaps using a point system as many other states do, for all offenses, and to substantially increase the penalties for DUI, particularly for repeat offenders.