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WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 18, 2012, 04:45 PM

Tougher DUI laws could be coming to North Dakota

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- For the first time since that horrific July accident that claimed the Deutcher of West Fargo, North Dakota lawmakers have the chance to reform the state's drunk driving laws.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- For the first time since that horrific July accident that claimed the Deutcher of West Fargo, North Dakota lawmakers have the chance to reform the state's drunk driving laws.

Today, legislation was introduced, that not only stiffens fines and mandates automatic jail time for the first offense, it requires a sobriety program.

The Governor and Attorney General hope to shepherd the bill, fondly known as "Brielle's Law." Named after 18-month old Brielle Deutcher, who, along with her mom and dad, were killed by a drunk driver.

In a room packed full of law enforcement from across the region, one reminder of why they came. Actually....three. Aaron, Allison, and little Brielle Deutcher. Tragically taken over the July 4th weekend, when a drunk driver went the wrong way down I-94 near Valley City.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple: "Today, a frontal assault on drinking and driving in North Dakota. The first ever piece of legislation in recent memory introduced to dramatically change the law and penalties against drinking and driving."

Wayne Stenehjem/ND Attorney General: "I am here to tell you that in ND we have lost too many people we continue to lose too many people and we cannot continue this tolerance of drinking and driving."

We would now be one of 15 states to require jail time for first time offenders. 3rd DUI would now be a felony offense, not a class a misdemeanor. Fines and Penalties increased.

Stenehjem: "Make no mistake about it, this is a tough bill and this is one that woun't be an easy one to pass."

In addition to the fines and mandatory jail time, there is a new piece to this legislation, a 24-7 sobriety program.

Twice a day blow into this tube or this bracelet which monitors in real time the alcohol consumed by the offender.

For the family of the Deutchers, another emotional day, but a day they have worked for since losing their three loved ones so tragically.

Lynn Mickelson/lost family in crash: "Now we hope and pray it will come to fruition we like what we see in the bill and hope for the best, and thank you."

West Fargo's Representative Kim Koppelman knows this will not be a walk. There will be those who see no reason to change the law, and there may be opposition from business interests who may see this as too much too soon. For the Deutchers, change didn't come soon enough.

Lawmakers will take testimony and debate the proposed legislation starting in January.

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