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Published August 16, 2012, 09:38 PM

West Fargo man's 14th DUI prompts talk of stiffer penalties

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It's proven, impaired driving can kill. So what do lawmakers, and those who enforce it do about habitual offenders?

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It's proven - impaired driving can kill. So what do lawmakers, and those who enforce it do about habitual offenders?

Kevin Tegtmeier made an appearance in court today for allegedly driving under the influence. If convicted, it will be his 14th drinking and driving charge.

If Tegtmeier is convicted, his maximum sentence would be 5 years in prison and a $5,000, but he has faced that sentence before and is back in this position. We asked lawmakers what they're doing to get habitual offenders to stop.

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

Ed Gruchalla - (D) Frago: "it's just a joke to them."

In North Dakota, a DUI becomes a felony after 5 offenses in 7 years. That's the max penalty of 5 years in prison and the $5,000. 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 3 consecutive sessions to stiffen driving penalties. For DUIs he wants to see a 1st offense have a much sharper bite.

Ed 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 tonight said 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 3.

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