Fargo, ND- In 2012, over 5,700 North Dakota residents were arrested from driving under the influence and 72 people were killed in DUI accidents. In an attempt to curtail overall DUI arrests and prevent unnecessary deaths lawmakers in the state passed a new law to enhance the penalties for anyone convicted of driving under the influence.

Whether or not tougher DUI penalties will stop a drunk person from getting behind the wheel as safety advocates assert remains to be seen. But it is clear changes to the law makes it even more important for anyone facing DUI charges to contact a North Dakota DUI attorney immediately and discuss the possible ways they can avoid a conviction.

S.B. 1302 went into effect last August 1st, changing a number of provision of the state’s DUI laws which include extending the look-back period, elevating some charges to felonies, and changing minimum penalties for a DUI conviction.

First offenders who register a blood alcohol content of .16 or above will be charged with aggravated driving under the influence. A simple DUI is bad enough, but an aggravated DUI for a first offense is even worse resulting in a mandatory jail sentence of two days or 10 hours of community service. The minimum fine also doubled from $250 to $500.

Before the law change, the look-back period was five years which meant a person charged with a DUI would be considered a first offender if their conviction occurred prior to the look-back period. Now, under current law the look-back period is seven years.

A second or multiple DUI charge within that seven year period requires that an individual participate in the 24/7 Sobriety Program. Participants in the program must submit to twice daily alcohol tests to assure they are abstaining from alcohol. Repeat offenders will also have higher mandatory jail sentences ranging from 10 days for a second offense to one year for a fourth offense.

Fourth or more DUI offenses within the 7 year look-back period are considered Class C felonies carrying a possible jail term of five years or more and a $5,000 fine.

If an offender is driving under the influence and kills another motorist they will now face criminal vehicular manslaughter charges.

If you are facing DUI charges, you probably realize the trouble you are in but are you aware of the challenges you face well into the future as a consequence of your DUI conviction? You may or may not realize your auto insurance rates, when you manage to get your license back, will double or triple. When you apply for certain professional licenses or jobs you will be denied or looked over because of your DUI conviction.

With tougher laws on the book, it’s critical that an individual facing a DUI charge retains a North Dakota DUI attorney to build an aggressive defense. An attorney with knowledge of how DUI courts work and has a good rapport with prosecutors will give any offender an advantage when attempting to negotiate for lesser charges.