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Published August 16, 2012, 10:08 PM

Lawmaker Wants to See Stiffer DUI Penalties

A West Fargo man appeared in court today for what could be his 14th drinking and driving conviction.

By: Todd Kurtz, WDAY TV

A West Fargo man appeared in court today for what could be his 14th drinking and driving conviction.

If Kevin Tegtmeier is convicted on this 14th charge his maximum sentence would be 5 years in prison and a 5 thousand dollar fine. He's faced that sentence before and is back in the same position. So we asked lawmakers what they're doing to get habitual offenders to stop.

State Representative Ed Gruchalla, who is a former Sgt. with the Highway Patrol says he's arrested habitual DUI offenders just like Tegtmeier.

Gruchalla: "it's just a joke to them."

In North Dakota a DUI becomes a felony after five offenses in seven years. That's the maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and the 5-thousand dollar fine. Tegtmeier faced that in 2008, and he's now back.

Gruchalla says someone like that is hard to control but the North Dakota law isn't doing its part. He's introduced bills in three consecutive sessions to stiffen driving penalties.

For DUIs he wants to see a first offense have a much sharper bite.

Gruchalla: "we need to make people think twice before they get in that car."

Gruchalla says what he'll introduce in the next session would make North Dakota a leader in the country in going after DUI offenses.

Senator Tim Mathern says he'll introduce a bill in the next session, requiring DUI offenders to have different license plates and something on their drivers license. That idea stemmed from the accident west of Jamestown, that killed a West Fargo family of three.

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