Tuesday, March 20, 2001

State Rep. Nobu Yonamine talks with his lawyer,
Pamela Tamashiro, at Pearl City Court before
his sentencing.

pleads guilty to
drunken driving

The legislator is anxious to get
back to work after sentencing

By Debra Barayuga

Just minutes after he was sentenced for driving while intoxicated, state Rep. Noboru Yonamine said he was anxious to get back to work at the Legislature.

District Judge Barbara Richardson sentenced Yonamine yesterday to a $250 fine, 14 hours of alcohol-abuse counseling, suspension of his driver's license for 90 days and alcohol assessment and treatment.

He changed his plea to guilty yesterday, saying he has learned his lesson and takes full responsibility for his actions. "I feel badly about what I've done. I'm glad I didn't kill or injure anybody," said Yonamine, outside Ewa District Court after his sentencing.

"I think I owe an apology to everyone -- my good friends, constituents, my family, anyone in the state -- that this sort of thing should not happen again."

Yonamine said he will abstain from drinking and hasn't had a drink since his arrest Feb. 8 while driving on the H-1 freeway. He said he doesn't think he has a drinking problem but feels he needs to undergo professional counseling to assess his behavior and drinking habits.

Despite critics who say he should step down, Yonamine, a lawmaker since 1989, said he wanted to honor the contract he made when last elected in November and serve the remainder of his two-year term.

He said he has gotten more than 100 phone calls and messages urging him to stay.

Yonamine had a blood alcohol reading of 0.134, above the legal driving limit of 0.08, when he was tested at the Pearl City station.

Yonamine denied he exposed himself to traffic when he urinated during the traffic stop. He had to choose between going in his pants or doing it discreetly on the roadside. "It just so happened while there; I just wanted to go."

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