The House today concurred with the Senate’s version of the DUI bill, sending it to Governor Jack Dalrymple for signature.

Here’s what it does:

For a first offense the fine goes from $250 to $500 along with mandatory addiction treatment. Unless you have over a 0.16 blood alcohol level, in which case the fine goes to $750 with a mandatory two days of imprisonment.

The law also expands the time for an offense to stop being held against you from five to seven years. Under current law, if you get a second DUI more than five years after the first one, it’s held as a “first offense” again. That period of time is now seven years.

For a second offense, there is a mandatory 10 days of jail time, a $1,500 fine, mandatory addiction counseling and a mandatory 1-year participation in the state’s 24/7 sobriety program which requires regular alcohol screenings from law enforcement.

For a third offense, it’s a mandatory six months in jail a $2,000 fine, addiction counseling and a year of probation which must include the 24/7 sobriety program.

A fourth offense, and all subsequent offenses, is a year and a day of mandated jail time, a $2,000 fine, addiction counseling and two years of probation including the 24/7 sobriety program.

Minors found to be driving with a .02 BAC would also be required to participate in the 24/7 sobriety program.

All told, it’s a much tougher law, but not as ludicrously tough as some of the alarmists demanded.

My prediction is that, much like “get tough” policies in the past, this will have little impact on alcohol-related car crashes and fatalities which have remained relatively static (in the context of driver/traffic increases in the state) despite stepped-up DUI enforcement:


The question is: What happens when these new “get tough” laws don’t actually make our roads safer? Do we admit that maybe this isn’t a problem public policy can solve, or do the activists and media alarmists bully is into even more draconian laws?

Another discussion question: With North Dakota’s jails already packed, where do all these people getting mandatory jail sentences go?