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Published April 29, 2013, 10:03 PM

Gov. Dalrymple signs tougher ND DUI laws

Governor Jack Dalrymple signed House Bill 1302 into law this afternoon giving North Dakota stricter DUI penalties. Grand Forks law enforcement say this has been "a long time coming".

Governor Jack Dalrymple signed House Bill 1302 into law this afternoon giving North Dakota stricter DUI penalties. Grand Forks law enforcement say this has been "a long time coming".

Lawmakers along with families who have been the driving force behind stricter penalties celebrated at today's bill signing. Stories of families losing loved ones to drunk driving accidents hit home for many people. Now those families can breathe a sigh of relief, along with local law enforcement.

Local law enforcement are celebrating--

Sheriff Bob Rost: "I think it's about time."

--That North Dakota has finally joined the ranks among other states and toughened up on DUI penalties.

Rost: "It's a long time coming and it's too bad it wasn't years ago."

Families like the Deutscher's, Mickelsons, and Ruiz' wouldn't have had to suffer, but these changes may spare other families.

Lynn Mickelson: "The one change we will never know, is which lives did we help save. But we will know some have been saved."

The bill doubles the fines for drinking and driving offenses and in many cases doubles the jail time as well, but it's those who have had multiple offenses that the law cracks down on. And in Grand Forks, officers believe it could make a major impact.

Sgt. Travis Jacobson: "These are who we're really trying to stop because they're just not catching on."

New penalties for first time offenders take them off the streets and include jail time for a minimum of ten days if their BAC hits .16.

Jacobson: "That's a long time for someone who goes out and holds your normal 8 to 5 job."

For those who cause injury or death, repercussions climb to a Class A Felony and a maximum of 20 years in jail.

Rost: "I think we needed this and we needed this very badly."

Officers say it's the summer months which are the most popular for drinking and driving in Grand Forks. $360,000 are also going towards statewide education outreach.

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