« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published April 29 2013

Dalrymple signs tougher North Dakota DUI laws

BISMARCK – With three families who have lost loved ones in the past year standing behind him, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a law Monday toughening drunken driving penalties in the state.

Tom Deutscher said many are going to benefit from the new laws, which his family lobbied for all session.

Deutscher is the father of Aaron Deutscher, who died in a July 6, 2012, car crash with his wife, Allison, of West Fargo, and their 18-month-old daughter, Brielle, when their vehicle was hit by a drunken driver headed the wrong way on Interstate 94 near Jamestown.

“When politics and partisanship is put aside and safety is brought to the forefront, then all of us can have some comfort knowing they will not have died in vain,” he said.

While he sometimes emailed lawmakers during the legislative process expressing frustration with the bill, he said the end result will go a long way.

He said the provisions that extend and require participation in the 24/7 Sobriety Program will help change the attitude of those who decide to drink and drive.

The program requires someone convicted of driving under the influence to take a blood alcohol test twice a day or wear a bracelet that monitors alcohol in the blood.

The bill increases the fine for first-time offenders, makes the punishments for repeat offenders more severe and adds funding for educational programs.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo.

The day after the Deutscher accident, Juan Ruiz and Sandy Hernandez lost their two sons, Cyris and Alaries, on July 7, after they were run over and killed by a drunken driver as they slept in a tent while camping at Lake Metigoshe.

Juan Ruiz said Monday, “I wanted change, awareness, responsibility and accountability, and I think this will do that,” he said of the bill.

He vowed to lobby for stiffer penalties during future legislative sessions if the new laws do not work.

Lynn Mickelson, joined by his wife, Donna, are the parents of Allison Deutscher. Lynn said the bill will always be known to them as “Brielle’s Law,” after their granddaughter.

“I feel good knowing our three families, private citizens, had something to do with it,” he said.