Bills propose increased fines for some traffic violations
Sen. Dean Rummel, the primary sponsor, believes the bills could save lives.
BISMARCK — Two bills recently introduced in the North Dakota Senate propose increased fees for some traffic violations.
Senate Bill 2168 proposes doubling speeding fines for those driving at least 21 mph over the speed limit. Senate Bill 2169 proposes an additional $100 added to traffic fees for drivers who have any combination of three or more specified violations within a five-year period.
Both bills were introduced earlier this month by the primary sponsor, Sen. Dean Rummel, R-Dickinson.
“[The North Dakota Highway Patrol expressed] some interest in making some changes here, and I offered to be the primary sponsor of a couple pieces of legislation that would help us, really, save lives,” Rummel told the Herald.
The other sponsors are Sen. Greg Kessel, R-Belfield; Sen. Jonathan Sickler, R-Grand Forks; Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck; Rep. Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson; and Rep. Vicky Steiner, R-Dickinson.
Senate bill 2168
Senate bill 2168 proposes doubling speeding fees for drivers who exceed the posted speed limit by at least 21 mph.
Rummel believes the bill has “potential to save lives.”
“Speeding and/or aggressive driving has been a factor in 34% of our fatal crashes in North Dakota in 2021,” Rummel said in the introduction hearing.
Sgt. Wade Kadrmas and Jacob Jones from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Karin Mongeon from the North Dakota Department of Transportation and Donnelle Preskey from the North Dakota Association of Counties gave testimonies in support of the bill.
According to Rummel, bills relating to traffic violations tend to generate a lot of feedback, and these bills are no exception.
Rummel thinks, though both bills have already received pushback, the speeding bill “probably had more opposition.”
“Though I may not have been against some increase, I think doubling it is a bit excessive,” said Sen. Doug Larsen, R-Mandan.
Others believe the issue of excessive speeding is already addressed through driver’s license point deductions.
“If you get a five or seven point violation, your insurance is going to make you pay a pretty hefty fee — and it’s probably going to be more … [than what we’re] going to give them as the ticket,” said Sen. Judy Estenson, R-Warwick.
The bill passed in the Senate on Jan. 23, 34-13. It was sent to the House on Jan. 24.
Senate bill 2169
Senate bill 2169 proposes charging an additional $100 per traffic violation for drivers who have any combination of at least three specified violations within five years. If a traffic violation fee was originally $50, these drivers would be charged $150.
“Some examples of those serious offenses include drag racing, using a wireless device, driving through a red light, overtaking on a hill or a curve, failure to yield an emergency vehicle, overtaking a school bus or going around railroad crossing arms,” Rummel said.
According to Rummel, there are 561,246 licensed drivers in North Dakota. The increased fine is expected to affect approximately 1,450 drivers who have at least three convictions for included violations.
“The behaviors of these aggressive drivers need to change. This bill can encourage a change in behavior by penalizing them financially,” Rummel said.
Kadrmas, Jones and Mongeon gave testimonies in support of the bill.
The bill is being revised by the transportation committee due to concerns about how many violations would qualify for the increased fee.
“When I first read it, I thought that it was intended to mean that if a person had done one of these violations – a particular one – three times in the last five years I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re a slow learner, you need something to get your attention.’ But when I became aware that it’s any of the entire list cited three times in five years, that slowed me down quite a bit,” Sen. Bob Paulson, R-Minot, said in a committee hearing.