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Published March 06, 2013, 10:07 PM

Penalties for driving drunk with children in the car

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Twelve-year-old twin girls from Moorhead say their father drove 100 miles an hour while drinking beer that he had them open for him.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Twelve-year-old twin girls from Moorhead say their father drove 100 miles an hour while drinking beer that he had them open for him.

The man now faces DWI and child endangerment charges.

We took a look at how having a child in the car affects drunk driving penalties in Minnesota and North Dakota.

It was a nightmare of a car ride for two 12-year-old girls. They say their father was driving at 90-100 miles an hour, drinking beers that he had them open for him.

Bill Bergquist, Clay County Sheriff: "It does happen, that's why the law was made, because we were running into it more commonly that the people would be driving intoxicated and then have their kids in the car."

A Clay County deputy pulled the man over in Dilworth after seeing him swerve and nearly hit a parked car.

Now, 47-year-old Thomas Iverson of Moorhead faces a felony drunk driving charge and gross misdemeanor child endangerment.

He has three prior drunk driving convictions since 2008 and faces up to seven years in prison. Having children under 16 years of age in a vehicle is an aggravating factor in Minnesota DWI cases and can bump up the charges and penalties.

If Iverson had been just a few miles down the road, in North Dakota, he could be looking at a lot less prison time. A fourth DUI offense in North Dakota, with or without children in the car, is considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of one year.

However, the repeat in offenses could result in other charges being filed, like reckless endangerment. Though Minnesota has the stricter law of the two states, DWI cases continue to rise.

Bergquist: "Seems like the more we even make the penalties stiffer, it just doesn't seem to help. We just need people to be a little more responsible."

Iverson's next court appearance is set for March 15th.

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