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Punishment not enough, friend urging lawmakers to prevent DUI deaths

In the past two weeks, two suspected repeat drunken drivers have killed three innocent people and injured two more in separate crashes in the Pacific Northwest.

Dennis Schulte, 66, and his wife, 68-year-old Judith Schulte were killed on March 25 when a pickup truck driven by Mark W. Mullan plowed into them as they crossed a street in North Seattle. Mullan, who was awaiting trial for a Christmas Day DUI arrest in Snohomish County, also injured Karina Schulte and her 10-day-old baby, Elias.

The latest victim of an alleged repeat drunk driver was a beloved 58-year-old mother of two from Whidbey Island named Morgan Williams.

She was killed by wrong-way drunk driver on 520 Thursday. On Friday, Michael Anthony Robertson was charged with vehicular homicide for that crash. Robertson was previously booked for a DUI hit-and-run in Tacoma in December and was awaiting trial.

"Morgan was probably the most open, loving individual I've ever known," says Earline Carlone of Edmonds. She was lifelong friends with Williams, starting when they first met in the dorms as students at the University of Washington.

"We went through every milestone in our lives from the time that we were in college. Getting married, our children were born at about the same time, they all grew up almost as one extended family over the years," she recalls.

Carlone wants people to know the person the community lost on Thursday.

"She had a circle of friends that was huge. She liked everybody, and everybody liked her," Carlone says. "There were many, many people who thought Morgan was their best friend, because she was so open and loving."

While Williams' sudden death is emotional for Carlone, she also believes this is the moment to stop repeat drunk drivers from ruining more families.

"Our community has been robbed of someone who was very active and contributed a lot. And she's gone in an instant."

Carlone believes tougher penalties for DUI aren't working to keep alleged drunk drivers like Michael Anthony Robertson from driving under the influence repeatedly after an initial arrest.

"We need to prevent them from being able to drive. Just telling them you're going to be punished obviously isn't doing it. There needs to be some kind of physical barrier from getting behind the wheel," Earline emphasizes, "It's destroyed the Williams family, her circle of friends, and you know he's destroyed his family's life too."

She says she supports State Representative Roger Goodman's effort to get ignition interlock devices installed immediately after a DUI suspect is arrested instead of after a conviction, which could take months.

If this idea becomes law, after an arrest, the suspect's vehicle would need to have the interlock system installed before the car is released from impound.

"I would like to see that moved forward. I can't make any sense of what happened. The only thing that makes sense to me is this is an impetus for us to move that legislation forward."

Monday, Goodman, a Democrat from Kirkland, met with Governor Jay Inslee to discuss his pending DUI legislation, House Bill 1482. The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.|

The new interlock rule would be added as an amendment to the bill if it gets to the House floor.

To support HB 1482, you can call the Legislative Hotline in Olympia to leave a message for your representative: 1-800-562-6000. You can also find your legislator's contact information here.

Earline Carlone says she hopes Olympia moves to stop repeat drunk driving during this legislative session.

"We've got to do more to prevent this from happening."

Libby Denkmann, Ron & Don Show Producer
Libby Denkmann is producer of KIRO Radio's The Ron & Don Show (weekdays 3-7). Libby is always on the run - literally.
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