DUI Laws in Hawaii

This article provides a comprehensive overview of Hawaii's DUI laws, including definitions, legal limits, penalties, and procedures.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Hawaii, with strict laws and severe penalties designed to deter impaired driving and protect public safety. This article provides a comprehensive overview of Hawaii's DUI laws, including definitions, legal limits, penalties, and procedures. It also includes references to official government resources and laws for further information.

Overview of DUI Laws in Hawaii

Definition of DUI in Hawaii

In Hawaii, DUI is legally referred to as Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OVUII). According to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) §291E-61, a person commits the offense of OVUII if they operate or assume actual physical control of a vehicle:

  1. With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
  2. While under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, to a degree that impairs the person's ability to operate the vehicle safely.

Hawaii's legal BAC limits are as follows:

  • Drivers aged 21 and over: 0.08% BAC
  • Commercial drivers: 0.04% BAC
  • Drivers under 21: 0.02% BAC

These limits are strictly enforced, and exceeding them can result in arrest and prosecution for OVUII.

Penalties for DUI in Hawaii

First Offense

A first-time OVUII offense in Hawaii carries the following penalties:

  • Fines: $150 to $1,000
  • License Suspension: 1 year
  • Imprisonment: 48 hours to 5 days
  • Community Service: 72 hours
  • Alcohol or Drug Education Program: Mandatory attendance

Second Offense

A second OVUII offense within ten years of the first conviction results in more severe penalties:

  • Fines: $500 to $1,500
  • License Suspension: 18 months to 2 years
  • Imprisonment: 5 to 30 days
  • Community Service: 240 hours
  • Alcohol or Drug Treatment Program: Mandatory attendance

Third Offense

A third OVUII offense within ten years is classified as a misdemeanor and includes the following penalties:

  • Fines: $500 to $2,500
  • License Suspension: 2 to 5 years
  • Imprisonment: 10 to 30 days
  • Community Service: 240 hours
  • Alcohol or Drug Treatment Program: Mandatory attendance

Habitual Offender

A person with three or more OVUII convictions within ten years is considered a habitual offender, which is a class C felony. Penalties include:

  • Fines: Up to $10,000
  • License Revocation: 5 years
  • Imprisonment: Up to 5 years
  • Probation: Mandatory

Overview

Hawaii's implied consent law, outlined in HRS §291E-11, states that any person who operates a vehicle in the state is deemed to have given consent to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine their BAC or drug content if arrested for OVUII.

Refusal to Submit to Testing

Refusing to submit to a chemical test results in immediate penalties, including:

  • License Revocation: 1 year for the first refusal, 2 years for the second refusal, and 4 years for subsequent refusals.
  • Fines: Up to $500

Refusal to submit to testing can also be used as evidence in court to support an OVUII charge.

Administrative License Revocation

Administrative Revocation Process

Hawaii's Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office (ADLRO) handles the administrative revocation of driver's licenses for OVUII offenses. The process includes:

  1. Notice of Revocation: Issued immediately upon arrest.
  2. Temporary Permit: Valid for 30 days from the date of arrest.
  3. Hearing Request: Must be made within 8 days of the notice of revocation.
  4. Hearing: Conducted by the ADLRO to determine if the revocation should be upheld.

Penalties

If the ADLRO upholds the revocation, the penalties include:

  • First Offense: 1-year revocation
  • Second Offense: 18 months to 2 years revocation
  • Third Offense: 2 to 5 years revocation

Ignition Interlock Device

Requirement

Hawaii law requires the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for all OVUII offenders. An IID is a breathalyzer device installed in the offender's vehicle that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver's BAC exceeds a preset limit.

Duration

The duration of the IID requirement varies based on the number of offenses:

  • First Offense: 1 year
  • Second Offense: 18 months to 2 years
  • Third Offense: 2 to 5 years

Costs

Offenders are responsible for all costs associated with the installation, maintenance, and removal of the IID.

DUI and Drugs

Drugged Driving Laws

Hawaii's OVUII laws also apply to driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances. A person can be charged with OVUII if their ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by drugs.

Testing for Drugs

Law enforcement officers may request a blood or urine test to determine the presence of drugs in a driver's system. Refusal to submit to testing results in the same penalties as refusing a BAC test.

DUI and Minors

Underage Drinking and Driving

Hawaii has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.02% or higher can be charged with OVUII.

Penalties for Underage Offenders

Penalties for underage OVUII offenders include:

  • Fines: Up to $500
  • License Suspension: 180 days
  • Community Service: 75 hours
  • Alcohol or Drug Education Program: Mandatory attendance

DUI and Commercial Drivers

Lower BAC Limit

Commercial drivers in Hawaii are subject to a lower BAC limit of 0.04%. Exceeding this limit can result in OVUII charges and additional penalties.

Penalties for Commercial Drivers

Penalties for commercial drivers convicted of OVUII include:

  • License Suspension: 1 year for the first offense, lifetime revocation for subsequent offenses.
  • Fines and Imprisonment: Similar to those for non-commercial drivers.

DUI Checkpoints

Legality

DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, are legal in Hawaii. Law enforcement agencies use these checkpoints to identify and apprehend impaired drivers.

Procedures

At a DUI checkpoint, officers may stop vehicles at predetermined intervals to check for signs of impairment. Drivers may be asked to perform field sobriety tests or submit to a breath test.

Common Defenses

Several legal defenses may be used to challenge OVUII charges in Hawaii, including:

  1. Improper Stop: Arguing that the traffic stop was not based on reasonable suspicion.
  2. Faulty Testing: Challenging the accuracy or administration of BAC or drug tests.
  3. Medical Conditions: Demonstrating that a medical condition affected the BAC test results.
  4. Procedural Errors: Identifying errors in the arrest or testing procedures.

It is advisable for individuals charged with OVUII to seek legal representation from an experienced attorney who can evaluate the case and develop an appropriate defense strategy.

Resources and References

Government Resources

Additional Resources

Conclusion

Hawaii's DUI laws are stringent and designed to deter impaired driving and enhance public safety. Understanding these laws, the associated penalties, and the legal processes involved is crucial for drivers in Hawaii. For more detailed information, individuals are encouraged to refer to the official government resources and seek legal advice if facing OVUII charges.

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Von Wooding

Von Wooding

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