North Dakota Legislator Arrested For Driving Under The Influence
By John Clark
A prominent North Dakota lawmaker from the city of Fargo was arrested this week for driving under the influence , according to a report from Bismarck Tribune.
Sources say Democratic Rep. Scot Kelsh was pulled over by state police on Interstate 29 in Fargo around midnight on Monday. The legislator was reportedly headed northbound on the heavily traveled highway at the time of his arrest.
The arrest was confirmed by Sgt. Troy Hischer, a member of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, who told sources that Kelsh was indeed stopped and “arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.”
When sources tried to reach Kelsh directly for comment, he did not answer cell phone messages. In addition, Chad Oban, the director of the North Dakota Democratic Party, said it was a personal matter and refused to comment.
Sources were eager to contact Kelsh for a couple reasons. First, and most obviously, any time a public official is arrested, it becomes immediate fodder for local media outlets. But this case was particularly interesting because of Kelsh’s public stance on drunk driving arrests .
According to reports, Kelsh voted earlier this year on a new North Dakota DUI law that would heighten the potential punishment for DUI offenses.
Under the new law, a first DUI offense is usually a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a potential $500 fine, $250 worth of court fees, and a suspended license, which could last for up to six months, sources say.
Ironically, Kelsh is the first legislator in North Dakota to be subject to the new DUI restrictions, which reportedly went into effect earlier this summer.
So while Kelsh received a great deal of public support, the 51-year-old politician will have to face up to the constituents who first elected him to office in 1996. He does, however, have time to earn back the public’s trust, as he is not up for reelection until later next year.
Of course, Kelsh’s actions do nothing to diminish the impact of his vote on the new DUI law. North Dakota has long had a relatively lenient stance on DUI laws, according to local sources.
A recent wave of anti-DUI momentum among state legislatures across the country has led to increased fines and jail sentences for DUI arrests for thousands of drunk driving offenders. And it appears the state of North Dakota could no longer stand still in the face of the DUI legislation trend.
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