By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A bad driving decision will soon cost travelers in North Dakota quite a bit more than mere pocket change.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law a bill to increase fines tenfold for drivers who use roads closed due to harsh weather. Previously SB2157, the new law takes effect Aug. 1.
The issue was pushed to the forefront early this year. Following a New Year’s blizzard in the state, the stretch of Interstate 94 from Bismarck to Fargo was closed. Also closed was Interstate 29 from the South Dakota line to the Canadian border.
According to reports, portions of the roadways were shut down for three days. State troopers issued tickets to 69 drivers for being on the interstate while it was closed.
North Dakota law had limited fines for violators to $20. The rule change authorizes $250 fines for travelers who drive around barricades to access the road. Driving on a closed road that isn’t barricaded would carry a $100 fine.
While the proposal made its way through the statehouse, supporters said stiff penalties are needed because driving on closed roads is dangerous for the violator and for the personnel called out to help them.
Critics complained the penalty is too stiff, and that there are times when people have very good reasons to go around the gates for closed roads.
To view other legislative activities of interest for North Dakota, click here.
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