House Passes Diluted DUI Bill | VideoJessica Roose | 2/27/2013
When someone chooses to drive drunk, the outcome can affect the lives of many.
"I am the only father in North Dakota that`s ever lost a child while riding the school bus," said Representative Dwight Kiefert of Valley City. "The driver of our bus was drunk."
Lawmakers want to send a message to drivers, letting them know there will be stiffer penalties if they decide to drive while intoxicated.
"The current bill as it stands before us, the only mandatory jail time on a first offense is a blood alcohol level of .21 percent," said West Fargo Representative Kim Koppelman. "The legal drunk driving limit, or threshold is .08 percent. That`s nearly three times the legal limit."
The bill has been amended since it was first introduced earlier this session. Some think it goes too far, while others say it doesn`t do nearly enough.
"It was 25 years ago and it doesn`t go away," adds Kiefert. "I can vouch for the victims. Our son is gone for life, The brother is gone for life. This is a life sentence, and it doesn`t get better."
"We have an opportunity to make a much stronger DUI bill, and I think the changes made in Appropriations in some ways failed to do that," lamented Fargo Representative Kathy Hogan. "Particularly for the families with children and grandchildren that have been killed over the last several years."
The bill had called for a mandatory four day jail sentence if an individual was caught driving with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent. Now, it`s only one day in jail when someone blows over .21 percent.
"What kind of message are we sending here by saying if you have a blood alcohol content that is over the legal limit but just under three times the legal limit?" asks Representative Cory Mock of Grand Forks. "That`s not enough to have stiffer penalties."
Anyone refusing to take a blood alcohol test after being pulled over would be assumed guilty and automatically face jail time. The bill passed and will go to the Senate, where some representatives said they hope the bill can be amended to include more of the original wording.