Attorney breaks down North Dakota mask infraction

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 5:11 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Gov. Doug Burgum and State Health Officer Dirk Wilke encouraged the enforcement of the new mask and business mandate with the possibility of ticketing those who don’t follow the rules.

Bismarck Attorney Matthew Arthurs says the mask infraction is comparable to a speeding ticket.

It carries a fine with no risk of jail time, but if you get more than one, the risk becomes greater.

Arthurs says if a resident accumulates three infractions in the same year the charge is upgraded to a class B misdemeanor.

An arrest warrant can also be issued if a person fails to show up to court or pay the fine.

However, the order has exemptions for individuals with medical and mental health conditions or a disability in which a judge could possibly dismiss the case in court.

“If you do come into contact with law enforcement when you’re not wearing a mask, possibly there is a reason for it and there possibly an explanation you can give to a judge, but really what it comes down to it paying a fine,” said Arthurs, an attorney for Jackson, Thomason, Welder & Arthurs, Inc.

Attorneys says they are worried officers and deputies will use the mask mandate as a probable cause to ask more questions and potentially search suspects.

“If an individual in the community is not wearing a mask they might have contact with law enforcement which might lead to further investigation into other things, other than not wearing a mask,” said Arthurs.

If prosecuted, Arthurs says the individual will more than likely pay a small fine and be done with the issue.

The order does not specify what the fine of the infraction is.

Therefore each municipality and county can determine a penalty for its residents.

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