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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, February 8, 2000

OK to drive with a
foreign license here

Question: I work for a travel and travel insurance company in Tokyo and would like some information about the rule regarding Japanese driver's licenses in Hawaii. Which part of the state law or regulation deals with that?

Answer: "There is no state law per se" that deals with foreign licenses, said David Mau, the city's assistant motor vehicle and licensing administrator. Rather, a federal law guides the counties on this.

Basically, the United States will recognize the driver's licenses of people from countries that will recognize U.S. licenses, Mau said. There is no restriction.

However, foreign visitors are advised to obtain an international driving permit, issued in their own countries, as a handy document, Mau said.

Q: Ninihua Lane runs between Young and Beretania streets on the Diamond Head side of Safeway Beretania. The city engineer's office says this is a two-way lane, even though it's single-lane width closest to Young Street. I almost hit someone going out as I was turning into Ninihua from Young Street. Someone at Safeway says there used to be a sign that said "one way," but if there is one, the city doesn't know about it. The private owner should be asked to designate it as a one-way road because the city can't do anything about it. I'm worried that someone is going to get hurt.

A: Neither the city nor Safeway believes a one-way sign is necessary.

A check of accident reports for the past two years did not indicate any problems along Ninihua Lane, said city Transportation Director Cheryl Soon.

Furthermore, she says her department would not have installed the stop sign at Ninihua and Young in the first place.

Ninihua at Young is meant to be a two-way road, measuring 13 feet, she said. The stop sign was installed at the request of police and legalized in May 1973.

"However, based on the existing drop driveway configuration and the roadway being privately owned, we would normally not have installed a stop control at this location," Soon said.

In this kind of situation, the private owner is responsible for, and has shown responsibility for, controlling traffic with speed bumps and "No Parking Anytime" signs.

Because of that, as well as liability reasons, the Department of Transportation Services does not propose adding a one-way sign there.

Safeway, meanwhile, notes that the two-way traffic flow on Ninihua serves not only the supermarket, but First Hawaiian Bank and a dozen or so small businesses.

"Limiting the flow of traffic to one direction would seriously impact both those businesses, as well as overall traffic flow on Beretania, Pensacola, Piikoi and Young streets," said Patrick M. Nii, Safeway's risk control supervisor.

Mobile Tax Assistance

The IRS and state Department of Taxation have teamed up to take their show on the road.

Pick up tax forms and publications, get answers to tax law questions, get help with payment problems, or get help preparing basic federal and state tax forms at three Mobile Tax Assistance locations on Oahu:

Honolulu: Kahala Mall, near center stage, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. tomorrow; Waianae: Waianae Library, 85-625 Farrington Hwy., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 23; and Waipahu: Waipahu Civic Center, 94-275 Mokuola, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 10.

Appointment not necessary, but advisable. Call 539-1543.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to

E-mail to City Desk

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