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By TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published January 17 2013

North Dakota speeding fines bill reviewed

BISMARCK – A $13 speeding ticket for driving 13 miles per hour over the speed limit in North Dakota today carries the same fine as it did 1975.

Mike Reiten, Assistant Chief for the West Fargo Police, told the House Transportation Committee Thursday afternoon that was his first speeding ticket when he was in high school and he can’t believe it’s the same amount today.

Reiten urged the committee to pass House Bill 1048, which proposes to increase the per-mile speeding fee and make the base-line fee $20, which would turn a $13 fine into a $72 fine.

“Consequence dictates your behavior,” he said. “Everyone weighs the risks versus the consequences.”

Right now, Reiten said, if a driver is going 13 mph over the speed limit in a residential zone in North Dakota, the fine is $13, but in Minnesota it’s $120 and in South Dakota it’s $110.

“I’ve had many conversations with other drivers about going to Minnesota and South Dakota,” he said. “They adjust their driving behaviors for harsher penalties”

The bill also proposes making fines in school zones and construction zones the same. Drivers would be fined $80 plus $2 for each additional mile per hour over.

Committee member Rep. Mark Owens, R-Grand Forks, sat on the interim committee and said the proposed bill is going to need some work.

He said the Legislature has amended portions of the state’s laws regarding speeding fines durpast 15 years, and the bill has shifted the discussion from increasing the base amount to the increase per mile, and whether cities can determine their own fines.

Connie Sprynczynatyk, executive director of the North Dakota League of Cities, said each community should be able to determine their own fines for speeding - an idea that has been shut down by the Legislature before.

“It’s never been about revenue,” she said. “It’s always been about safety.”

Owens shared a similar view.

“We don’t fine people to make money,” he said. “We fine people to change behavior.”

Committee Chair Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, plans to spend more time looking at the breakdown of fees. Multiple committee members asked for more information about the proposed changes.