Legislative Interim Committees are completing their work. Reports are being prepared outlining the work accomplished. Bill drafts are being readied for introduction into the 2013 Legislative session.
I was Chairman of the Transportation Committee during the Interim. Last Wednesday we completed our work and adjourned for the final time. Part of our responsibility was to review the motor vehicle section of the North Dakota Century Code. We took on the challenge of clarifying and re-writing, hopefully in a more understandable way, sections of this very lengthy Chapter.
Overtime, new law has changed portions of paragraphs and sentences. Those new phrases have often become hard to read and the legal intent difficult to determine. A lot of work by Legislative Council staff, the Department of Transportation, Law Enforcement, constituents of interest and Committee members has resulted in several recommendations. These changes will come forward in several bills to be introduced during the 2013 Session.
One of the bills would increase traffic fines. Decades have passed since any appreciable changes have been made in the penalties for a traffic violation. Increasing traffic volume, coupled with increase in accidents and fatal crashes lead the Committee to recommend the changes.
The rate changes still keep us below neighboring States. But in some cases the fines will be more than double the current rate. Today, for example, the penalty for driving 65 mph on a highway marked at 55 is $10. The proposed fine would be $50. On the interstate highway, exceeding the posted limit by 10 mph now has a fine of $50. The new penalty would be $90.
The Committee didn't see the new penalties as being onerous, but expected them to be a stronger deterrent and support more responsible driving patterns. The fines being proposed can be costly, but are completely avoidable, if we obey the law.