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Grand Forks, other ND cities and counties can raise speed limit fines

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Cities and counties have the ability to raise fines for local speed limit violations after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill Wednesday allowing them to do so.

Senate Bill 2304, sponsored by Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck, allows the new rule, but it also restricts fee-raising ability to twice the state's levels, after an amendment from the state House of Representatives in March that was approved last week by the Senate.

Local law enforcement officials have spoken highly of the bill and other legislative efforts to raise fees for noncriminal moving violations, even though police departments don't benefit financially from the tickets they give.

"When a police officer issues a traffic ticket with a fine associated with it, that money does not go to the Police Department," police spokesman Lt. Derik Zimmel said in February. "If it's a municipal court ticket, the money goes to municipal court. If it's a district ticket, the money goes to district court."

Grand Forks City Council member Danny Weigel, who has also spoken in favor of SB 2304, said Thursday it's been "a long time coming."

"It puts it on the local government, and it gives local control to our cities and counties to address an issue that might be specific to their area," said Weigel, who also works with UND Police. "For example, if you're doing 40 mph in a 25 mph zone, that ticket is currently $15. There's no deterrent with $15."

In some situations, Weigel said local governments are spending more to process those fees than they're generating.

But speeders in the city don't need to worry yet. During a strategic planning session April 29, city leaders likely will review changes to state law that could impact Grand Forks, according to City Administrator Todd Feland. If the city wishes to change its fee levels, the Grand Forks City Council eventually will have to vote on amending related ordinances.

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at eallen@gfherald.com or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

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