Traffic-related bills making their way through North Dakota Legislature

Senate Bills 2168 and 2169 seek to raise fines for excessive speeding, repeat offenders, while Senate Bill 2362 would shift seat belt enforcement from "secondary to primary" status.

North Dakota Capitol
North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Forum file photo

BISMARCK – Although two bills that seek increased fees for certain traffic violations have passed in the North Dakota Senate, a local representative who serves on the House Transportation Committee is not convinced they will pass in the House.

And the Grand Forks County sheriff says that if lawmakers approve a proposal to raise the speed limit on multi-lane highways, he would appreciate it if they also pass a bill that would allow officers to pull over drivers who aren’t wearing seat belts. Sheriff Andy Schneider is remaining neutral on a plan to boost interstate speeds to 80 mph, but he said events on Interstate 29 during a recent storm are a good example of why proposed changes need careful consideration.

Throughout the first two months of the 2023 session of the Legislature, traffic issues have been a common discussion.

Eric Murphy
Eric Murphy (Submitted photo)

Senate Bill 2168 proposes doubling fines for drivers who surpass the speed limit by at least 21 mph. Senate Bill 2169 proposes an additional $100 fee for drivers who have had three or more specific traffic-related convictions within five years.

“I think it’s going to be a hard pass, especially allowing a political subdivision to double a fine, because we just took that out of law. … That’s going to be a point of contention that will have to be figured out,” said Rep. Eric Murphy, a Republican from Grand Forks who serves on the House Transportation Committee.


Another bill, HB 1325, passed in the House and has been introduced to the Senate. It includes an amendment that traffic fines – with some exceptions – may not exceed the limits established in North Dakota Century Code 39-06.1-06. Originally, the bill said traffic fines may not exceed the established code by up to 100%.

“I didn't like changing that language,” Murphy said. “... A lot of our fine structure has not changed since 1973. I mean, that’s a lot.”

Meanwhile, other traffic-related bills are working their way through the process, too. HB 1475 seeks to raise the speed on multi-lane highways from 75 mph to 80 mph. The House passed it 65-29 on Feb. 7. And Senate Bill 2362 – which seeks to allow police to pull over a vehicle if the driver or passengers are not using seat belts – passed through the Senate 31-14 earlier this month.

Sgt. Wade Kadrmas, from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said nothing’s been done with a lot of traffic-related fines and fees “for probably decades.” He testified in favor of SB 2168 and SB 2169 as a member of law enforcement and the Speed & Aggressive Driving Team.

“These two bills are just one step to try and help remind drivers that it’s their responsibility to obey traffic laws out there. Especially drivers that have been stopped several times and cited for those crash-causing violations,” Kadrmas said.

SB 2168 passed in the Senate on Jan. 23, 34-13, with no amendments. It was introduced to the House on Friday, Feb. 17.

“The speed limits are set for a reason," he said. "That bill deals with speeds that … from a law enforcement perspective, are unreasonable.

“What kind of excuse is there to go that fast?”


Senate Bill 2169 initially proposed an additional $100 fee for drivers with three or more specified traffic violations within five years. The bill has been amended, and now applies to drivers with three or more convictions, rather than violations. To be convicted of a traffic offense, a driver has to receive a citation, agree to the charge and pay the fine.

Originally, there were 42 violations included in the bill, but it has been reduced to 23. The remaining violations are considered more serious, such as drag racing, overtaking a school bus, driving on the left side of the road, overtaking a vehicle on a hill, running a red light and following too closely.

Sen. Dean Rummel, R-Dickinson, said disregarding a stop sign had 14,000 citations in five years in North Dakota. Additionally, driving through a red light had 2,961 citations and distracted driving had 2,588.

“We got the big ones in there. The ones that are serious and that have a lot of violations,” Rummel said.

There are 580,000 licensed drivers in North Dakota. Of those, 1,400 have three relevant convictions in the past five years and would face an increased fine for their next violation, if the bill passes.

“We’re not affecting a whole lot of people, but we’re affecting the ones that are … very aggressive drivers that need to change their ways,” Rummel said.

With the amendments, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate on Feb. 1. It was introduced to the House on Friday, Feb. 17.

“We’ve got some steps yet to do, but we’re on our way,” Rummel said.


Schneider, the Grand Forks County sheriff, said he was "neutral" on the proposal to raise the speed limit on multi-lane highways.

Andy Schneider
Andy Schneider

“But if the Legislature wants to increase the speed to 80, can you at least throw us a bone and make seat belts a primary offense instead of secondary?," he said. "That will naturally increase people’s awareness and we’ll get more compliance just by making it primary.”

Mostly, he expressed concern about how an increased speed limit might affect travel during inclement weather.

“A great example from this week was 13 semis piled up in one spot,” Schneider said. “There was a law enforcement officer involved in a crash with a semi, and the semi driver said ‘well I wasn’t speeding, I was going 75.’ … You increase that speed to 80 and that guy would have been driving 80.”

Sav Kelly joined the Grand Forks Herald in August 2022.

Kelly covers public safety, including local crime and the courts system.

Readers can reach Kelly at (701) 780-1102 or
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