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DUI Bill Voted Down in N.D. House - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

DUI Bill Voted Down in N.D. House

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There is one more chance for new DUI laws in North Dakota. A bill was voted down Friday in the House, which would have stiffened penalties for first-time DUI offenses.

Lawmakers were told in committee that it actually had to be defeated.

That is because it would have been too complicated to try and merge the bill with the one still alive in the Senate, House Bill 1302, if both were passed and sent to conference committee.

Representative Ed Gruchalla of Fargo says House Bill 1302 is a very watered down as far as penalties go.

The bill would make a mandatory fine of $500 and keep the possibility of 30 days in jail that already exists. Right now, Gruchalla says judges typically give out a $250 fine.

The new bill would also assign one day of jail time if a person's blood alcohol content is at 0.18.

Gruchalla says he is saddened that it has come to this.

"We wanted some high upfront penalties figuring that it's like putting up a fire wall. We'll have a high enough wall that people are going to look at that and say we're not gonna drink and drive. Well now we're gonna still slap them on the wrist for the first time dui, and it's not gonna have an impact," he says.

If House Bill 1302 makes it to conference committee, the House will have to vote again to approve amendments to it.

Representative Gruchalla says families of victims are also not happy about changes to the bill. He says there is talk that the next step is to try gathering signatures to get a measure on the ballot.

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