North Dakota's tougher penalties for drunk driving start Monday


The new laws that take effect on July 1st include stricter penalties for those caught driving drunk in North Dakota.

As the Associated Press reports, even first-time DUI offenders can be sent to jail if their blood alcohol content is .16 or more. That's twice the .08 legal limit to drive.

A second offense will bring a minimum of 10 days in jail. And a drunk driver who causes a death can be sentenced to 20 years beginning Monday.

WDAY talks with one North Dakotan who thinks even the revised penalties are not harsh enough. Vince Ulstad spent five weeks in a coma after a head-on collision with a drunk driver who was killed in the crash.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol reports 25 people have been killed by drunk drivers in the state so far this year. There were 87 fatalities last year.

One of the changes that did not make it into North Dakota's bill will take effect Monday in Tennessee, another state with new DUI legislation. That measure requires even first-time offenders to use ignition interlocks, in which a driver must breathe into a device before operating the vehicle. Mothers Against Drunk Driving tells Memphis station WREG drunk driving deaths have fallen 30 percent in the 17 states that have such laws.

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