Minot City Council advances higher traffic fines

Proposed fines double for some offenses

Jill Schramm/MDN Pedestrians use a crosswalk on Third Street Southeast Tuesday. Fines for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks would go up under a new fine schedule being advanced by the Minot City Council.

Traffic fines in Minot could be going up.

The Minot City Council approved on first reading Monday a new schedule of fines proposed by the Minot Police Department to address traffic behaviors that contribute to public safety issues. The 2019 Legislature approved a law change allowing cities to increase their fines by as much as 100% above the state fine schedule.

For instance, in Minot’s proposed ordinance, going 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone would result in an $80 fine rather than the $40 in state law. Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on other city streets would double the fine to $20, and driving 20 mph over would double the fine to $50. Fines also would go up for failing to stop at a pedestrian crosswalk, disregarding traffic control devices, texting while driving and a number of other traffic offenses.

Approved on first reading Monday, the new fines would go into effect Jan. 1 if approved on second reading on Dec. 20. Fines collected by municipal court go into the city’s general fund.

Council member Lisa Olson said the hope is the higher fines will have an impact on driving behavior that has concerned residents of the community.

“This is the time to do this,” she said. “We were certainly given the latitude to be able to increase these a few years ago.”

Mayor Shaun Sipma said many current fines are ridiculously low.

“That really is not a disincentive in any way, shape or form to abide by some of the more — I would say — courteous or even responsible traffic laws that are in place to keep people safe, whether that’s speeding through a school zone or disregarding pedestrians in a crosswalk — all issues that we’ve dealt with and complaints that we’ve taken,” he said.

Council member Stephan Podrygula said it can cost more to write the ticket than is collected in the fine.

“We’re below the cost of delivering these law enforcement and safety services, and that should trouble everybody who is conservative. It should trouble everybody who is law-abiding. It should trouble everybody who wants government run like a business,” he said.


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