A rush to judgment

Rep. Dan Ruby, Minot; Rep. Larry Bellew, Minot

The April 2 editorial” Sending the Wrong Message” was premature and rushed to judgment before the entire story was told.

Drunk driving is a serious problem in our state. It has ruined far too many lives. We take our responsibility to address this problem seriously and we are determined to reduce the incidence of drinking and driving through tougher penalties and smarter solutions.

SB 2240 and HB 1302 would have mandated jail time for first time offenders and treated all first time offenders the same regardless of blood alcohol level. Rather than deal with two bills, the House defeated SB 2240 and are working to revise and strengthen HB 1302. We believe the right approach will create a tiered system that increases the consequences a drunk driver faces based on blood alcohol levels and prior convictions.

We also believe mandatory jail time for first time offenders is ill advised. Not only will such a law force counties to build more jail space, but other methods like ankle bracelets and ignition interlock systems are more effective.

When we are done, North Dakota law will include stiffer fines and consequences for all drunk driving convictions and will provide effective solutions to better safeguard our roads and highways.