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Friday, April 28, 2000

Bill seeks to
merge DUI laws,
stiffen penalties

By Rosemarie Bernardo


Penalties for drunken driving and boating as well as driving under the influence of other drugs will be similar under a bill up for a vote in the Legislature next week.

"Basically what we did was we consolidated all the current DUI laws into one chapter," said Rep. Kenneth Hiraki (D, Ala Moana), co-chairman of the House and Senate Conference Committee that passed the bill Wednesday.

We think, overall, it allows the state to better enforce the DUI laws to go after those that are impaired, drivers that are impaired," said Hiraki.

The bill provides for more consistent penalties and provisions, he said.

The measure also stiffens penalties for repeat offenders by taking away their vehicle registration and license plates, as well as the driver's license of the suspected offender. The repeat offender provisions will apply to people with one prior conviction in the past five years, two priors in the past seven years and three or more convictions in the past 10 years.

The measure also reduces the penalties for some drug offenses to mirror penalties for drunken driving, which will help limit the number of jury trials and prevent a possible court backlog, Hiraki said.

"I am really pleased that the conferees were able to come to an agreement," said Carol McNamee, public policy chairwoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "There was a great deal of study and work to be done to make sure that these bills were proper."

Ronald Sakata, chief adjudicator at the Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office, said the bill will increase his office's caseload.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report

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