Low traffic ticket fines frustrate law enforcement

It’s never a good day when you get pulled over and get a ticket. But Authorities say those fines are merely a slap on the wrist and they’re frustrated.

A speeding ticket is as low as 5 dollars to be exact, 20 dollars for running a red light. But when you cross over to states such as South Dakota or Minnesota, they’re easily over 100 dollars or more. Bismarck Police Chief Dan Donlin says it turns into a joke when pulling someone over who’s not from North Dakota. 

 He added, “The people laugh and then drive away and say ‘Well, thank you!’ And off they go with their 10 dollar or 20 dollar ticket.”

The deterrent away from speeding or running a red light is supposed to be the point system. If you get 12, your license is suspended. But Chief Donlin says it does nothing considering the risk of even getting caught. 

“Low risk of getting caught even though we are out there looking for them, and what is the consequences if they even get caught? Big deal, 20 dollars,” says Chief Donlin.

And even if those twelve points suspend a license, many still drive anyway. In 2016, Bismarck PD gave out over 15-hundred driving under suspension citations.

Despite all of that, some citizens are still appreciative of the low fines. 

 “I can’t say I’m innocent that oh no, I never speed. But I have done it, and you know, for not excessive speed, that’s a reasonable price,” said local resident Shelly Viellieux.

This issue has been brought up in past legislative sessions but doesn’t go very far. Former Senator Ron Carlisle is in favor of raising the fines, but he isn’t suprised it hasn’t happened yet. 

“It’s kind of a culture. You know there was some of the key lawmakers just were opposed to raising the fines. They should be looked at. I mean, if you speed, you pay and that’s also dangerous for others on the road,” said Carlisle. 

This issue won’t be brought up again until the 2019 legislative session. Until then, Chief Donlin hopes lawmakers will want to work with law enforcement to do something about it. 

“This isn’t just a law enforcement issue. This is a community issue statewide. It’s a community safety issue and we need to collaborate and work together,” said Chief Donlin.

I was able to get a list of fines from the Bismarck Municipal Court. After looking though it, I noticed the fine for running a red light and potentially causing a wreck is the exact same amount as not having your registration card in the vehicle, which is $20. Things like this is what really frustrates Chief Donlin.

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