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Can You Afford the Time for a DUI
09/09/2013 By Staff

Can You Afford the Time for a DUI

Two tragic events involving drunk drivers during the summer of 2012 resulted in the deaths of two young boys and the killing of four members of another family. During the last legislative session in North Dakota there was considerable debate about changing the statutes relating to driving under the influence. Two different proposals for amendments to existing law were introduced and argued. Through a serious of concessions the result was an increase in penalty and the addition of a new offense. Under North Dakota Century Code 39-08-01 subsection 2 it is now illegal for a driver of a motor vehicle to refuse to submit to a chemical test requested by a law enforcement officer.

Under NDCC 39-20-01 any person who drives or is in the control of a motor vehicle in a place where you can legally drive a vehicle is deemed to have given consent, and shall consent to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration or presence of other drugs in their body. NDCC 39-20 also lays out under what conditions the tests would be performed and the administrative sanctions to your driving privileges in the state of NorthDakota. A portion of this section addresses the administrative sanctions for the refusal to submit to tests requested by law enforcement and resulting revocation of your driving privileges.

Prior to July 1 2013 it was not a criminal offense to refuse to perform the chemical test in North Dakota. The addition of NDCC39-08-01 subsection 2 now makes that refusal a crime. The sponsors of the bill to modify the driving under the influence law in ND used language similar to what is found in Minnesota traffic law. In ND the penalty for refusing to submit to a chemical test is equivalent to the penalty for driving under the influence. A test refusal is also treated as an alcohol offense when determining sentencing enhancements resulting from prior or future alcohol related offenses.      

A person who pleads or is found guilty of an alcohol offense would be guilty of a class B misdemeanor for the first or second offense in a seven-year period. It would be a class A misdemeanor for a third offense in a seven-year period and a class C felony for any fourth or subsequent offense regardless of the length of time since the previous offense. In addition, upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense within seven years the court may order the vehicle’s license plates to be destroyed.

Under the new law: (NDCC39-08-01 sub. 5)

a. (1) For a first offense, the sentence must include both a fine of at least five hundred dollars and an order for addiction evaluation by an appropriate licensed addiction treatment program.

(2) In addition, for a first offense when the convicted person has an alcohol concentration of at least sixteen one-hundredths of one percent by weight, the offense is an aggravated first offense and the sentence must include a fine of at least seven hundred fifty dollars and at least two days' imprisonment.

b. For a second offense within seven years, the sentence must include at least ten days' imprisonment, of which forty-eight hours must be served consecutively; a fine of one thousand five hundred dollars; an order for addiction evaluation by an appropriate licensed addiction treatment program; and at least twelve months' participation in the twenty-four seven sobriety program under chapter 54-12 as a mandatory condition of probation.

c. For a third offense within seven years, the sentence must include at least one hundred twenty days' imprisonment; a fine of at least two thousand dollars; an order for addiction evaluation by an appropriate licensed addiction treatment program; at least one year's supervised probation; and participation in the twenty-four seven sobriety program under chapter 54-12 as a mandatory condition of probation.

d. For a fourth or subsequent offense, the sentence must include at least one year and one day's imprisonment; a fine of at least two thousand dollars; an order for addiction evaluation by an appropriate licensed treatment program; at least two years' supervised probation; and participation in the twenty-four seven sobriety program under chapter 54-12 as a mandatory condition of probation.

The Judge is allowed to modify the sentence within certain guidelines: (NDCC39-08-01 sub.5)

f. If the offense is subject to subdivision a or b, a municipal court or district court may not suspend a sentence, but may convert each day of a term of imprisonment to ten hours of community service for an offense subject to paragraph 2 of subdivision a.

If the offense is subject to subdivision c, the district court may suspend a sentence, except for sixty days' imprisonment, under subsection 3 of section 12.1-32-02 on the condition that the defendant first undergo and complete an evaluation for alcohol and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation and upon completion of the twenty-four seven sobriety program.

If the offense is subject to subdivision d, the district court may suspend a sentence, except for one year's imprisonment, under subsection 3 of section 12.1-32-02 on the condition that the defendant first undergo and complete an evaluation for alcohol and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.

If the defendant is found to be in need of alcohol and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation, the district court may order the defendant placed under the supervision and management of the department of corrections and rehabilitation and is subject to the conditions of probation under section 12.1-32-07. The district court may require the defendant to complete alcohol and substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation under the direction of the drug court program as a condition of probation in accordance with rules adopted by the Supreme Court.

If the district court finds that a defendant has failed to undergo an evaluation or complete treatment or has violated any condition of probation, the district court shall revoke the defendant's probation and shall sentence the defendant in accordance with this subsection.

Alcohol continues to be a contributing factor in many of our most serious traffic crashes in North Dakota. The message is clear; ND is getting tired of drunk drivers. Can you afford to drink and drive?