North Dakota could soon increase speeding deterrents

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, September 21, 2012

If a state legislative panel in North Dakota gets its way, a deterrent to speeding will increase for the first time in nearly 40 years. A separate effort would change who is in charge of the state’s commercial driver training schools.

The Interim Transportation Committee met recently to discuss various rule changes that will be pursued during the upcoming regular session. One issue that is expected to draw a lot of consideration would boost the fine for speeding on highways in the state.

North Dakota law now has some of the lowest speeding fines in the nation. Since 1973, anyone caught exceeding the posted limit by 10 mph on a 55 mph road faces $10 fines. Also, driving 80 mph on interstates posted at 75 mph results in $25 fines.

In nearby states, the same violations often result in fines in excess of $100.

The proposed changes in North Dakota would raise the fine amounts to $50, including a service charge.

Supporters say that steps need to be taken to improve safety on the state’s roadways as traffic continues to increase because of the states booming oil industry.

Mike Reitan, an assistant West Fargo police chief, told panel members the bill draft is a step in the right direction and has had favorable comments from law enforcement. He said these fees would be a deterrent and would save lives.

Reitan also testified that 90 percent of crashes relate to driver behaviors, and those behaviors can be modified by adopting severe penalties.

Additional fines are also touted as necessary to help the state cover expenses for road maintenance and repair.

The proposal would also allow cities throughout the state to adopt their own traffic ordinances to raise their own fines. Currently, locales are prohibited from setting their own penalties.

Another proposal would return the regulation of commercial driver training schools from the Highway Patrol to the state Department of Transportation.

The patrol took over responsibility for the schools from the state DOT in the 1980s.

Linda Butts, NDDOT deputy director for driver and vehicle services, told lawmakers that the patrol wants to transfer responsibility back to the agency. She said the DOT believes the switch is the best option.

North Dakota lawmakers meet for regular session every other year. The next session is slated to begin Jan. 8, 2013.

To view other legislative activities of interest for North Dakota, click here.

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