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North Dakota House passes bill to allow local fines for speed limit violations

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The North Dakota State Capitol. Forum News Service file photo
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BISMARCK — North Dakota cities and counties could soon have the ability to impose their own fines for local speed limit violations, thanks to a bill the state House of Representatives passed 58-33 on Wednesday, March 20.

Senate Bill 2304, from Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck, gives local governments limited authority to create an ordinance and establish a fine for noncriminal moving violations in their jurisdictions.

"We are in support of anything that the Legislature can do to increase the deterrence impact of the current fine structure," police spokesman Lt. Derik Zimmel said in February after the state Senate voted 34-11 to pass Oban’s bill. "Anecdotally, if you're in a neighboring state and you get a ticket, it's going to be a $150-plus fine. There, you're probably less inclined to drive that fast."

In some areas of North Dakota, going 10 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit costs drivers less than $20.

“There’ll be much talk about how the cities are trying to raise revenue, but that is not true. This is truly a safety issue,” said House bill carrier Rep. Mary Adams, D-Grand Forks.

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Adams sits on the House Political Subdivisions Committee that heard Oban’s bill and voted 11-2 to give it a “Do Pass” recommendation.

Rep. Sebastian Ertelt, R-Lisbon, sits on the same committee and said he was one of the votes against Oban’s bill.

“We heard from a lieutenant here in Bismarck about a traffic fine (for) driving under suspension. That particular violation has a $350 dollar fine,” Ertelt said. “You would think that a $350 fine might be a slight deterrent from someone driving under suspension. However, we found that in just the last 3 years, there are 5,500 incidents of driving under suspension. So I would leave to you that the fines under $350 aren’t doing a whole lot to deter someone from breaking the traffic law.”

Because the bill was amended to limit how high fines can be raised, it will have to return to the Senate for approval.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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