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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Panel Okays Higher Penalty For Mislabeled Octane

Two Huron men want higher criminal penalties for mislabeling the octane content in fuel. Representative Dick Werner and Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore say increased fines will reduce the profitability of passing off lower octane fuel as higher octane.

Moore says the state Department of Public Safety notified prosecutors after a statewide investigation showed that octane was mislabeled in several areas of the state.

That investigation was followed by an attorney general’s investigation and litigation.

Moore says he prosecuted one company that owned five stations, but the highest charge he could apply was a class two misdemeanor, with a maximum fine of five hundred dollars. He asked the committee to change that to a class one misdemeanor so the fine can be two thousand dollars on each charge.

“With the one company, they had five stations in Beadle County; the maximum they could have been fined was $2,500. That’s the fine they received. If this law was passed, that would go up to $10,000, so obviously there would be a larger deterrent for them to do what they did, and to be more careful,” Moore says. ”There’s a lot of consumer protections in place, to protect a consumer from this happening, but the penalties, in my opinion, weren’t strong enough to deter this kind of conduct.”

The committee gave a do-pass recommendation to House Bill 11-57. It now goes on to the full House of Representatives.