Tougher DUI and Driving Laws Designed to Create Safe Drivers in North Dakota

If you’re a resident of North Dakota, chances are that you’ve heard about tougher DUI laws that are meant to curb the amount of arrests that police officers and attorneys pursue each and every year.  However, if you think that your chances of escaping penalties for DUI and other driving laws are increasing, think again: lawmakers are more confident that their jobs won’t be hindered by tougher legislation

These new laws, which take effect on August 1st, increases minimum penalties for most driving law offenses, which might ease the burden from some otherwise safe drivers.  In addition to increasing the minimum penalty, Governor Jack Dalrymple has also increased the number of years that can pass before a subsequent DUI will be considered a first offense again (seven years as opposed to five years)

While the new laws certainly favor drivers as opposed to attorneys and public safety officials, unsafe drivers who might be eager to hit the roads again should think before driving under the influence.  A new program – known as the 24/7 Sobriety Program – will require drivers who have been convicted of a DUI to undergo breath-alcohol tests twice a day at the cost of $2 each day ($1 per test).  This can put a severe hassle on anyone who has to lead a busy life, which legislators are counting on to be a deterrent for those considering the dangerous decision to drink and drive.

The 24/7 program works by using sobriety tests to determine if a convicted DUI offender has had any alcohol.  If the test proves to be positive, offenders will be taken into custody; offenders who refuse to take the test will immediately have their bond revoked.

Proponents of the 24/7 program already point to its incredible success, noting that 98% of participants are successful in completing this program.  Judges are already hoping to use this innovative program to ensure that parole is successful in DUI cases, as well as alcohol- and drug crimes, as well as domestic violence or child abuse cases. In addition to this program, drivers who are pulled over for a suspected DUI can no longer refuse to take the test, as this will result in them being automatically charged with a DUI.

So what’s the lesson you can learn from these new North Dakota driving laws?  While the legislature may seem to favor drivers, there’s no denying that the DUI penalties make it pay to be a safe driver.

How the Recent Government Cuts Will Affect the DMV

While government officials and military personnel are busy hunkering down to prepare for the aftereffects of the recent government cuts, a major entity is discovering that it’s going to get hit hard – and it just might affect your everyday life.

The Department of Motor Vehicles, one of the largest government agencies in the United States, is expected to close hundreds of locations around the country to deal with the upcoming budget cuts.  In addition to these sudden changes, the DMV is looking to re-organize its core functions in order to continue providing the public with essential services.  This includes moving several services online, which means that many people might find it more difficult to obtain the information they need on their driving records and DMV reports.  Many DMV locations are closing altogether, leaving residents and businesses worried that they won’t be able to access the services they need.

This could prove to be a potential disaster for employers and job-seeking individuals, as driving records are a core component of extensive background checks within the hiring process.

“The budget cuts couldn’t have come at a worse time,” says Jeffrey Kellner, founder of  “With the economy still stagnating and jobs more scarce than ever, the information contained within driving records can make or break a person’s quest for the perfect career.”

Employers often look to driving records to determine if a person is responsibility and reliable.  If a potential employee has unpaid parking tickets, speeding offenses and even DUI arrests on their driving records, this could convince an employer to look elsewhere for a new hire.  Additionally, some job-seeking individuals have reported that driving record errors have prevented them from getting hired.

With so much at stake, the economy has made it more important than ever for people to access their driving records – but the recent budget cuts look to threaten hassle-free access to DMV reports.  This is why services like are stepping in to pick up where the Department of Motor Vehicles left off.  Online driving record searches take the burden off of the DMV, and also make it easier for people to find the information they need without going through the hassle of the DMV’s severely constrained services.

While the extent of the budget cuts have yet to be felt, businesses and individuals are looking to mitigate any potential setbacks by moving their needs to

Virginia Reckless Driving Laws Speeding over 80mph ??

Virginia has recently introduced a hefty speeding ticket fine of $3550 or more based on the amount over the limit that a driver is ticketed for. This creates a great challenge for those motorists in the state that are common to speeding tickets and gives a great reason for drivers to be a lot more careful in watching their speed.  This is a law that may seem a bit crude and outrageous, but it is creating safer streets, motivating drivers to slow down and follow the limits that are posted.

These fees are seen in hefty tax increases that are assessed to drivers of VA that are convicted of speeding in the state. This gives concern to these drivers, but the main method of avoiding such horrendous taxing on their yearly taxes is to avoid speeding, always follow the traffic laws, and maintain a quality driving record.

Even driving 15 MPH over the legal limit when driving on an interstate highway can bring 6 points on a license, with fines up to $2,500, with a year in jail possible and $1,050 assessed in taxes. This alone brings speeding over the limit by merely 15 MPH to a cost of $3,550 and a possible jail sentence. For drivers that are driving 20 miles or more over the speed limit, there is a charge of reckless driving, which is for all those motorists driving 80 MPH or more. While 80 may not seem to be a high speed, if you are in a zone that doesn’t permit 80, you are likely going to jail for reckless driving. You will also have to pay $350 for 3 years following with fees that can go well over $3000 in total.

This is a law that is gaining a great deal of attention as drivers are wondering whether it is even constitutional to gain such a great revenue from tickets alone. Why should motorists have to pay nearly $4,000 for going merely 15 MPH, with yearly assessed taxes as well? Well, the reason is to keep speeders off the roadways and keep those drivers that are following the rules safe. It is to encourage those who think they will get away with speeding to not even try as there can be great penalties for doing so – so much that it could affect your lifestyle for years afterwards. With the new fines and penalties imposed, drivers are thinking twice about putting the pedal to the metal.


The Basics On How Red Light Cameras Work (And how to avoid a ticket!)

Sara Schoonover


Imagine: It’s a rather common day and you’re running around town, knocking errands off your to-do list when all of a sudden, you see an array of bright, flashing lights as you stroll through one of the same intersections you drive through every day.

You think to yourself, “I don’t think we were expecting a lightening storm!” and then you realize that you probably set off the flashes at a red light camera. Paranoid, you go online to do some research about how long it takes for them to send you a ticket, and how much it’s going to cost you.

You wait and wait and about a week later, you get a fancy $500 notice in the mail with several pictures of you with the surprised “flash” face as you made your way into the intersection, only milliseconds after it had turned red. How can this be? You were sure you didn’t run that light!

Sound familiar? If you drive in one of the 70+ cities in California that operate red light camera systems, it’s very likely that you have experienced a similar situation, or know someone who has. Red light cameras bring millions of dollars in every year to the cities and camera companies. There are many different conspiracy theories on them, but we’ve got the inside scoop on exactly how they’re run, and how you can avoid the headache of a ticket.

A Brief History

The first red light camera systems began as early as the 1960’s and are said to have been introduced into the United States by the 1980’s. Currently, red light camera systems are run in 25 states across the US. Fines generated by citations differ from state to state, but are as high as $500 in California. Supporters of the systems uphold that the cameras are designed to reduce the number of accidents at selected intersections, but some studies contradict that claim. Opponents argue that the systems are run as a revenue generator and have little to no affect on accident reduction. It’s an on-going debate as to whether red light cameras violate constitutional laws protecting the public.

How They Work

If you haven’t already figured out, red light cameras are designed to capture photos of red light runners. More specifically, they’re installed at specified intersections to capture red light runners turning right without stopping completely (or making illegal right hand turns), turning left on red, or going straight through the intersection on a red. The cameras are placed on the corners of the intersection and are activated by induction loop sensors embedded under the road which create a magnetic field around the entrance to the intersection. When a vehicle enters the magnetic field at a speed in which it detects that you will run the light, it causes the camera systems to activate and begin recording the incident. Pictures are taken of the vehicle entering and leaving the intersection, and of the driver’s face and the vehicle’s license plate.

The photos are gathered by the police department and are then reviewed by an officer. If the officer determines that the driver did apparently commit a violation, they will send the ticket to the owner on the vehicle’s registration and file it with the courthouse to follow up. In California, the police department must issue the ticket within 15 days of the date of violation. The California court system allows defendants to contest the alleged violation in a court trial or trial by written declaration (trial by mail).

Legal Issues

Many argue that the officer who issues the ticket and testifies in court to a disputed case is not the proper person to present the photographic evidence, since he or she is not an expert in the camera systems.

The company that owns and operates the cameras contracts with the city to operate a ticket-based red light camera program. In California, cities are bound by a vast multitude of rules and regulations when operating a red light camera program.

For example, when installing a new red light camera at an intersection, the program must follow a 30 day warning period at that intersection before issuing actual citations to violators. The city must also make proper public announcements when installing cameras at new approaches and intersections. The law requires for there to be proper signs placed at each intersection’s approach, even if the intersection has a camera at only one approach, or for the city to have proper signs at each city entrance, indicating the use of red light camera systems within the city.
If the city is not in full compliance with each regulation, their red light camera program might be deemed illegal by the judge, as has been in the case of many cities, such as Napa in 2011 when the judge deemed that the “cost neutrality” clause in the cities’ contract with the camera company was unconstitutional.

How to Avoid Them

Undoubtedly, the best way to avoid a red light camera ticket is to come to a complete stop before the limit line before the light turns red.
It’s very common for drivers who are making a right on red (which is legal in California, unless otherwise noted) to slow down, look, and turn if no one else is coming.
California vehicle code 21453(a) stats that a driver “shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection.” Red light cameras are designed to capture drivers who turn right without completely stopping before the limit line.
A huge percentage of red light tickets that are issued are for this violation, and cost as much as if the driver blew straight through the light.

Opponents use this information to support their claim that red light cameras are simply revenue generators, arguing that making a right on red without stopping completely is not as dangerous as blowing straight through the light. Legislators in the past have tried to pass laws that separate the two incidences into two separate violations, with right on reds being less expensive than runners driving straight through the light. As it stands, the two incidences result in the same fine, and the same violation.

If You Get a Ticket

Although California’s red light camera ticket fines are debatably expensive, the California court system does make it fairly easy to contest a ticket through a trial by written declaration. This option allows drivers to contest their case through the mail, and gives drivers who are found guilty a second option to fight it in court through a trial de novo.

Many people who have received red light camera tickets have decided to contest their ticket, not because they didn’t think they ran the light, but because they simply couldn’t afford the high fines and insurance hikes from the potential point placed on their record.

Many feel that the cameras are unconstitutional and violate their rights as citizens with being recorded on camera. Until the vast majority of lawmakers and government authorities can agree that this is the case, red light camera systems will continue to be a multi-million dollar revenue source for cities.

Sara Schoonover is Vice President of Ticket Kick a California company that helps drivers get  red light camera tickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly. You should also get a copy of your DMV driving record at

How to Save the Most Gas Today

Saving gas is one of the most sought after practices that exist today, but not many people can tell you how to really get the most for the money you spend in gas. A lot of people will blame their vehicles for loss of gas too fast or low MPG’s, but in many cases it is actually the fault of the driver more so than anything else. So, how can you make sure that $20 gets you where you are planning to go efficiently?

Take Your Time

You don’t have to drive like your grandmother who is scared to approach other drivers, but you should be taking a bit of time when driving, as mashing down the gas can suck every drop out of the gas tank before you get halfway there. So many people forget that patience is a virtue, and proceed to rush everywhere they go, often looking at the gas hand wondering why it is going much quicker than it should. However, if you take your time driving and follow a speed that is less gas heavy, you can be sure that you will save a great deal more gas.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Maintaining your vehicle is not only wise, it is necessary to keep your vehicle’s MPG’s higher. If you aren’t changing the oil, checking the other fluids, maintaining proper tire tread and balance, and performing other maintenance tasks, you will find that your vehicle burns through gas much quicker. In most cases, the higher consumption of gas can be attributed to some sort of issue with the vehicle that could have been caught with simple maintenance and prevented from causing great costs to you.

Keep a More Economic Vehicle

Driving those big engine vehicles just doesn’t work with gas anymore and can be a definite way to watch your pockets slim down for gas. Getting an economical vehicle today is a must if you want to save the most gas – even if you just have a small vehicle for big runs and keep the vehicle you really want for fun. It is the practice of today and most drivers are finding out how important it is to give in and get a vehicle that can achieve more MPG’s much easier.

Keeping your eye on the fuel is only natural these days as gas reaches $5 and more in some states. As people are seeking a way to cut down their gas prices, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure the vehicle you do have is burning gas more efficiently, and the vehicle that you are looking for is able to offer the MPG’s that you want. After all, why should you be spending all your hard earned money from work trying to pay for gas to get to work, when you could easily put some of that money aside and still keep the trip you always have? Short of getting on a bike or trusting your feet for the trip, getting ahold of wiser gas saving tips is necessary.

Do Drivers Feel Less Safe Today?

According to a survey done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 50% of American drivers said driving feels less safe today than it did just give years ago.  Why is this?  Wouldn’t it seem that driving would be safer, given all of the new features in vehicles today to help the vehicles sustain crashes and the passengers avoid injuries?

Why Driving is Tricker Today

While going to the Department of Motor Vehicles might be challenging, being on the road seems to be more difficult.  Drivers are reporting new worries about being on the road.  After all, there are more distractions when driving today than there have been in the past.

Drivers have pointed out the following worries:

  • Cell phones
  • Inattention
  • Aggressive drivers
  • Increased traffic volumes
  • Speeding
Does this mean that drivers are less safe?  That’s the question that’s difficult to answer.  Certainly, times have changed, but the causation isn’t as clear.

How to Stay Safe on the Road

There are a number of ways that you can begin to stay safer on the roads:
  • Know the local traffic laws
  • Attend driving classes
  • Do not talk on the phone or text while driving
  • Maintain a proper speed
What can you do about other drivers?  That’s where things get tricky.  But paying attention is the best advice in any situation.  Driving is when you should be thinking about driving, not about anything else.

Current Change in New York Renewal Driver License Requirements

No less than three New York senators are debating the New York Department of Motor Vehicles decision to ban vision tests, when drivers renew their licenses.  This change went into effect at New York DMVs across the state this past Wednesday.

In New York State, driver’s licenses must be renewed every 10 years or so, depending on the circumstances.  With DMV currently planning to drop the need for an eye test during a driver’s license renewal, Senator James L. Seward, R-Oneonta, states DMV is being reckless.  Obviously, during the years between renewing the license, there is plenty of time for the driver’s vision to change.

Spokesperson for DMV, Jackie McGinnis, disagrees.  According to McGinnis, DMV has carefully researched the issue and considered the potential outcomes that could result.

During the years between 1993 to 2000 drivers were not required to be tested for vision.  According to McGinnis, there were no negative outcomes regarding traffic safety.

The Senators that expressed concern over the issue have come out against the change.  However, neither of the two Onondaga County senators has yet taken a stand.

A solution to find a medium between the customer convenience offered by  DMV and public safety is currently being researched by Senator David Valesky, D-Oneida.

In the past, each New York State driver was required to take a vision examine at the DMV when renewing their license.  The driver also had the option of submitting the results of their vision exams that were performed by their physicians.

With the change, vision exams are no longer necessary, and the only requirement is for the driver renewing their license to certify that they are not suffering from any vision problems.  The driver also self-certifies that they are not suffering from heart ailments, hearing problems and other medical conditions that could impair their driving ability.

The change does not apply to those that hold their commercial license, and they will still need to take the medical and vision exams each two years when renewing their license.

Spokesperson for DMV, Jackie McGinnis, claims that the agency decided upon the change in order to offer drivers the availability of renewing their licenses online.

In the United States, there are currently 14 states that do not require vision

Mystery Novel Examines the Changes in Women’s Lives over the Last 40 Years

Mystery Novel Examines the Changes in Women’s Lives over the Last 40 Years

Probation officer Gillian Jones’ biological clock is ticking, and to finance her continued fertility treatments, she takes on a case that will unravel the mystery of a young girl abandoned at a Colorado monastery in the new novel, “The Fatal Heir.”

Author Lois Lewandowski releases her debut novel that offers socially conscious themes with a compelling mystery in “The Fatal Heir: A Gillian Jones Mystery (ISBN 978-0595398430, iUniverse, 2006).

Lewandowski’s story centers on lead character, Gillian Jones, a probation officer in a small Nebraska town, a setting that this native Nebraska author knows well. Making up for lost time after a recent car accident and divorce, Gillian and her current husband are trying to get pregnant. With the high cost of ongoing fertility treatments threatening to end Gillian’s dream of the perfect family, she takes on a case with a big payoff.

A local county commissioner offers a big reward if Gillian can find the biological parents of his adopted daughter, who was left at a monastery in Colorado. Feeling her biological clock ticking, a determined Gillian leaves for Aspen hoping for a lead that stretches back to 1967. Unfortunately, no one at the monastery remembers an abandoned baby, and when one of the monks goes missing and a woman who’s sleeping in the bed reserved for Gillian is murdered, Gillian realizes she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

Lewandowski parallels the mystery with her lead heroine’s personal journey. “Gillian is willing to take some chances to prove to herself, and her family, that she can succeed at something,” says Lewandowski. “But with increasing pressure to have a baby, Gillian is forced to ask herself if this is what she really wants, or if she is just responding to other people expectations.”

Much of this author’s writings, including her published short stories, reflect women’s issues. “There has been so much change in the last several generations in the lives of women,” she explains. “My mother was forty-three years old when I was born, which at that time, was considered late in life. Now that’s completely changed.” Lewandowski’s contrast of Gillian’s present day choices with women’s choices in the late 1960’s provides interesting commentary on how far women have come in this area.

“This is a cozy mystery” adds the author, “meaning violence and sex take place off-stage.” With much humor and a murder that takes place later in the story, this book sets the dominoes up and it’s the murder that gives the push to bring them all down. “The Fatal Heir” is the first in a series featuring Gillian Jones.

Lois Lewandowski resides in Lincoln, Nebraska. She acquired a Journalism degree in 1981, and went on to work at the Lincoln Journal-Star. In 1988 Lewandowski began working at the Department of Motor Vehicles where she is still employed. Lewandowski has had several short stories published including “The River Man,” which was a finalist in the 2005 Pebble Lake Review Awards. “The Fatal Heir: A Gillian Jones Mystery (ISBN 978-0595398430, iUniverse, 2006) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Review copies available upon request.



ne department of motor vehicles
Lincoln, NE March 5, 2007

Tips to Use during Your Road Exam for Your License

The main part of getting your driver’s license is the studying and practice, as when it comes time to be licensed, a road exam is required. The road exam is not only important, but can be quite a challenge for the first time, bringing forth great anxiety and a lot of things to think about.

If you are approaching your road exam appointment and want to be sure that you know what to do to pass, make sure you follow these simple tips that can make all the difference for you as a new driver.

  1. Take practice time seriously. Even though you have your learner’s permit and the privilege to drive supervised, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect this time as the perfect opportunity to get the practice you need for your driver’s test behind the wheel.
  2. Study your driver’s manual. This publication is perhaps one of the most important to new drivers, and tells you everything you need to know about driving, road signs, signals, and your rights and responsibility as a driver.
  3. Make sure you listen to instruction. The testing instructor will provide you with the instructions for completing the road exam. This will include various moves and more. If you want to pass your road exam, it is best that you are paying good attention as you are being scored as you go.
  4. Pay attention to all signs and signals. While the instructor is providing you with direction for the test, you are still expected to know the signs and signals intended for you, while following them. The instructor will pay attention to how well you can do this, grading you the entire time.
  5. Follow the speed limit regardless of signage. It is your responsibility to also follow the speed limit, regardless of whether or not there is posting. Your driver’s manual will provide the basic rules for speed limits in different types of areas.
  6. Provide enough room between yourself and other drivers. There is no tailgating allowed, as it is a ticketing offense. If you are doing your road exam, however, you want to garner a bit more room between drivers in front of you, which should be between 3 and 4 car lengths.
  7. Calm down. The worst thing you could do is be anxious while taking your road exam, as it causes you to be more prone to accidents and mistakes. If you are taking your test, take some time to calm down and get more acquainted with the process in order to be sure that nerves don’t defeat you in the end.

Your driver’s test is quite important; therefore you want to take the time to make sure that you are ready, prepared, and able to complete your exam as successfully as possible. Remember that you should drive just like you would if you were licensed, as every move you make counts as you take your test, even the braking of the car and how hard you push them.

DMV Kiosks to Lessen Stress of DMV Offices in Nevada

No one really likes to go to the DMV – mainly because the wait can be so excruciating,
especially if taking time off of work. A long and boring wait a good day does not make,
and no driver really jumps for joy when they have an appointment or date with the DMV.

However, this could all be coming to a change, with grocery stores in Nevada starting
a trend that could lift off within other states if the success is great and the reaction is as

The grocery store has become the ultimate mecca of getting things done these days,
with Western Union, check cashing, cigarette and liquor purchases, prescription filling,
and other kiosks that allow tasks to be completed as the daily grocery shopping is
completed. Even if no shopping is due, it still remains a more convenient location with a
lesser wait for getting things done – so why not the DMV?

Well, the Nevada Department of Vehicles has recently received an approved contract
by the Board of Examiners for a 10 year contract for the installation of new Department
of Motor Vehicle kiosks within the grocery stores of the state, as reported by the Nevada
News Bureau.

The contract totals $27.6 million, and should be offset by the fees processed from users
of the kiosks, costing only $1 per transaction except for renewing registration which
will be $3 per transaction. The initiative is aimed at providing more convenience to the
customers, while also lessening administrative costs through less need for as many
employees, as with DMV offices. The kiosks also have the advantage of 24/7 use,
instead of the 5 day a week openings until 5p.m. as with offices as well.

There is also a great advantage in saving more gas, as those within outer counties
won’t have to spend the high gas cost in order to reach the DMV offices, which can be
situated out of the way from them.

There are 40 kiosks set to be installed within Nevada stores starting Spring of 2012,
most of which will be in the Southern section of the state, which is where there are more
complaints of long lines and waits.

As for the other states, there is no word yet to signify following the trend, but it is hopeful
that all states will recognize the needs and benefits, installing kiosks throughout the
U.S. to assist in creating greater convenience for drivers needing DMV services.

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