Penalties remain too light

Halloween or not, it’s frightening out there — on the roads. During an emphasis patrol between Friday and Monday afternoon, the Washington State Patrol arrested 52 people in Snohomish County for investigation of drunken driving. In four cases, drivers had children in their cars.

Holiday parties traditionally bring an increase in drinking and driving, law enforcement officials remind us every holiday. But every day people drink and drive, not under any holiday influence. They get away with it, until they don’t.

It’s been a horrific year when it comes to Snohomish County citizens and drinking and driving. The cases keep coming. After Meghan Stivers, 26, of Lake Stevens, was killed in Marysville by a drunken driver attempting to elude police in July, we noted the need, again, for harsher penalties for DUI and vehicular homicide.

Last week, Randy Sedy, 45, of Arlington, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in Stivers’ death, and other felonies connected to his rampage. He also has a 2005 drunken driving conviction. Sedy is set be sentenced on Jan. 5. Prosecutors will recommend the top punishment under state sentencing guidelines: 4 1/2 years.

Since the supposed sentence for driving under the influence — without killing or injuring anyone — is a year in prison, how is it possible that killing someone only (potentially) adds another 3 1/2 years to the sentence? But first-time offenders get that year, except two days, suspended, as Sedy did. Even if someone crashed into another vehicle, as Sedy did.

Patrick Rexroat, 56, of Mountlake Terrace, remains in the King County Jail with bail set at $1 million. He’s charged with negligent homicide and reckless driving in the July crash that killed Steve Lacey of Kirkland.

In September, Gregory Fulling, 49, of Marysville, was hospitalized and awaited charges after causing a wrong-way crash on a highway in Anchorage, Alaska, that severely injured the responding police officer, Randy Hughes, who was treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for skull and other fractures.

In high-profile non-injury arrests, it was reported in September that the commander of the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, Pat Slack, was disciplined after being convicted of drunken driving while visiting Arizona in March. He spent a day in jail, and was suspended without pay for three weeks.

And at the end of October, a Seattle police detective, John Fox, 46, of Everett, was arrested in Mukilteo for allegedly driving under the influence and causing a four-vehicle crash in the middle of the day.

Drunken drivers span the spectrum of society. They are out there every day. They don’t take a holiday.