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City of Fargo argues higher traffic fines 'reasonable'

FARGO - The city of Fargo's traffic fines were found to be excessive under state law. But that doesn't mean they violated the U.S. constitution.

That's the argument made by the city of Fargo in documents filed Tuesday asking a federal judge to throw out a West Fargo woman's lawsuit alleging her constitutional rights were violated by Fargo's higher fines.

Stephanie Sauby received five traffic tickets, including two speeding violations, totaling $262 from the city of Fargo between 2003 and 2006.

In a lawsuit filed last year in U.S. District Court in Fargo, Sauby argued that her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were violated by city fines that exceeded traffic fines set by state law.

The city of Fargo, citing two opinions from state attorney's general, had argued that it could levy higher fines under its charter city authority. The North Dakota Supreme Court, agreeing with lower courts, rejected that argument in a ruling in March.

"The fees imposed by the City were rationally related to legitimate governmental interests and were reasonable in light of the conduct they were intended to punish," the city argued in a brief filed late Monday.

For more on the story, read The Forum Wednesday.