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Stiffer penalties for drunk drivers to be discussed in upcoming legislative session
December 18, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
It looks like penalties for driving under intoxication could be getting tougher in North Dakota.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Rep. Kim Koppelman announced draft legislation on Tuesday that would lengthen jail sentences for DUI drivers and add additional penalties for people caught driving drunk, even on a first offense.
According to the release from the North Dakota Attorney General's Office, the key provisions of the proposal would include enhanced penalties. For instance, on the first offense, a drunk driver would be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and the sentence would be a minimum of 10 days in jail, of which four days could not be suspended, and a $750 fine. A second offense in 10 years would be a Class A misdemeanor and would include a minimum sentence of at least 60 days in jail, of which 10 days could not be suspended, and a $1,500 fine. A third offense in 10 years would be a Class C felony and would have a minimum sentence of at least one year and one day in jail, of which 60 days could not be suspended, and a $2,000 fine. Four or more offenses within 10 years would be a Class C penalty and would have a sentence of at least one year and one day in jail, of which one year could not be suspended. Refusing to submit to a bread or breathalyzer test would be a criminal offense equivalent to a DUI. Drunk drivers would have to submit to sobriety monitoring as a condition of probation for all DUI offenses. The mandatory probation period would be six months for the first offense, a year for the second and third offenses and two years for four offenses or more. No parole would be granted for an offense that caused serious bodily injury. The press release further notes that that alcohol was a factor in 47 percent of car accidents in North Dakota last year and was involved in 53 percent of fatal crashes in North Dakota this year. That's well above the national average of 31 percent.
Personally, I am in favor of stiffening the penalties and think they might not go far enough. I have little sympathy for people who drive drunk and put their own lives and the lives of others at risk. People who drink must do so responsibly. North Dakotans have let people get away with drinking and driving for far too long.
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