Grand Forks, ND- Tougher DUI laws in North Dakota are making an impact, leading to fewer DUI arrests throughout the year, but tougher laws have created another problem, overcrowding in county jails across the state.

North Dakota authorities reported that as of January 1st, DUI arrests in the state fell by 10 percent in 2014. Highway Patrol Sergeant Tom Iverson told KXMB-TV that there were 200 less DUI arrests in 2014; last year police arrested 1,700 people for driving under the influence.

Many factors could play into the decreased of DUI accidents, but some believe that recent changes in North Dakota DUI laws plays a role. Law changes call for felony charges for first-time DUI offenders with the blood alcohol content of .016 or above and carries a mandatory two days in jail. The look back period for DUIs was also changed from 5 years to 10 years, meaning more people are facing repeat DUI charges.  Those charged with two of more DUIs could be forced to participate on program in which they must submit to two breathalyzer tests each day.

Causing an injury of death as a result of a drunken or drugged driving charge is also a felony and carries much longer mandatory sentencing. Causing an accident involving injuries or deaths are now considered felonies with mandatory jail terms nearly doubled. If an offender is driving under the influence and kills another motorist they will now face criminal vehicular manslaughter charges

With these tougher laws and increased mandatory minimums, county jails in the state are facing overcrowding. Valley News (KX-4) reported that the county jail in Grand Forks has risen above capacity, forcing jailers to move nearly 60 inmates to other facilities.

Bret Burkholder, administrator for the jail, told KX-4 that the number of inmates have surpassed the jail’s maximum occupancy of 250. Many of the drunken drivers sent to county jail are sentenced to an average of at least 10 days, forcing the jail to move federal prisoners to other facilities.

Most people realize that if they get caught driving under the influence, whether it is drugs or alcohol, they are facing a host of penalties, and jail is just one of those consequences! A DUI cost a person an average of $10K in the form of DUI attorney fees, towing costs, increased insurance premiums, and fines and penalties.

If you are facing a DUI you should speak with the Grand Forks DUI attorney as soon as you are able to discuss the best approach to take on your defense. Tougher laws mean you need a vigorous and aggressive defense strategy if you want any hope of getting leniency from the courts.

A DUI attorney with knowledge of North Dakota courts will give you a greater chance of avoiding a DUI conviction. And if that’s not possible, an attorney can help minimize the possible charges you are facing or the DUI penalties you could be hit with upon your conviction.