The state Legislature has passed a bill that will toughen the sentence for DUI-related vehicular-homicide convictions.
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed House Bill 2216, which increases the penalties for drunk drivers charged with vehicular homicide. The measure passed the House unanimously on Feb. 13.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who has long been pushing for the change in law, said that defendants in these cases will go from serving a minimum of about 20 months in prison to nearly five years. The new sentencing range is on par with a first-degree manslaughter sentence, prosecutors said.
“The toughest part of my job as the Prosecuting Attorney is to meet with families and tell them that the drunk who killed their mother, sister or brother will be out in less than 20 years was a bitter pill to swallow,” Satterberg said. “The current state law is inadequate. The law is supposed to punish offenders and protect the rest of us.”
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The change in law will only impact DUI-related vehicular-homicide cases, Satterberg said. The change will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, prosecutors said.
Lawmakers heard from Nabila Lacey, whose husband, Steven Lacey, was killed in July by a drunken driver whose blood alcohol content allegedly was 0.29 percent, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Patrick Rexroat, of Snohomish, who allegedly pounded his chest like a gorilla after slamming his SUV into Lacey’s BMW on Northeast 85th Street in Kirkland near Interstate 405, has pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Rexroat is slated to be sentenced next Friday.
The change in law will not impact his sentence.