Tougher DUI Laws May be Coming to North Dakota

A new North Dakota DUI bill is proposing tougher penalties on drunk drivers. The bill proposes to make a 2nd offense in ten years a Class A Misdemeanor, and a 3rd offense in ten years a Class C Felony. If passed, fines for all offenses would raise across the board. The minimum fine for a first DUI is currently set at $250 and the bill proposes to increase that to $750. The minimum jail sentence for a 2nd offense is currently at 30 days, but lawmakers are pushing to increase that to one year in jail after a second DUI conviction.

The new bill is being favored by Governor Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and West Fargo representative Kim Koppelman. If passed, North Dakota would become the 16th state to require a mandatory jail sentence for anyone convicted of their first DUI offense. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says that he believe the bill may still be a tough sell because “too many people in North Dakota think that you’re entitled to one free bite at DUI.”

Backlash against lenient DUI laws in North Dakota erupted when an 18-month old Brielle Deutscher and her parents were killed by a drunk driver in July. The new law would be named Brielle’s Law.

North Dakota lawmakers are assembling in the beginning of January, and the issues remaining with North Dakota’s lax DUI laws are considered by Governor Dalrymple to be a “very, very important policy issue.”