Tougher DUI laws are headed to the governor.
After the long process of drafting, amending and debating, House Bill 1302 overcame a rival Senate bill to pass through both chambers of the Legislature.
Even in the final reading, the bill still met opposition from House members who felt it didn’t go far enough and others who felt it went too far.
“If you fail to fee your cat, that’s a Class A misdemeanor,” said Rep. Ed Gruchalla (D-Fargo), referencing the recently-passed animal cruelty bill. “We’re not putting enough emphasis on deterrence.”
Under HB 1302 a third DUI is a Class A misdemeanor, as is insurance fraud.
First and second convictions are Class B misdemeanors and subsequent convictions after three will be Class C felonies.
The bill will also implement the 24/7 program while creating a new vehicular homicide provision.
Rep. Dan Ruby (R-Minot) said the 24/7 programs have worked in other states and told the floor there are increased fines for each bracket.
“We’ve struck a reasonable balance,” said Rep. Kim Koppelman (R-Fargo), who sponsored the bill, which passed through the House 69-23 Wednesday.
While the bill received praise, Rep. Craig Headland (R-Montepelier) was among the House members who thought the bill went too far.
His main concern surrounded underage drinking.
“Kids will be kids,” he said. “We keep meddling further and further into what parents are supposed to do.”
Rep. Bob Skarphol (R-Tioga) argued early in the bill’s process for more for the victims of drunken driving. Ruby said the bill is a compromise, is tougher, and will have a positive effect on enforcing DUIs.