STAR-BULLETIN / SEPTEMBER 2000
A witness said this Honda Civic was involved in a race when the driver apparently lost control going Kailua-bound on Pali Highway.
Law stiffens speeding penalties
Drivers face the loss of licenses, time in prison and a minimum $500 fine for exceeding limits
Speeders beware: A new law will make excessive speeding on Hawaii's roadways a crime with stiffer penalties such as jail time, temporary loss of driver's licenses and more than double the usual fine.
Speeding penalties increase for repeat offenses
Beginning next year, drivers caught going more than 30 mph over the speed limit or 80 mph on any roadway in Hawaii will face the following penalties:
» First offense: $500-$1,000 fine, 15- to 30-day license suspension, mandatory driver education course, either 36 hours of community service or two to five days in jail
» Second offense*: $750-$1,000 fine, 30-day license suspension, mandatory driver education course, either 120 hours of community service or five to 14 days in jail
» Third offense*: $1,000 fine, three-month to one-year license suspension, mandatory driver education course, 10-30 days in jail
*Offenses must occur within a five-year period.
Gov. Linda Lingle signed into law this week a bill that slaps the increased penalties on drivers caught going more than 30 mph over the speed limit or 80 mph on any roadway.
"If they are in jail or without a license, they are not on the street threatening others and using their car as a weapon," said state Rep. Kirk Caldwell, who supported the bill.
The law, effective Jan. 1, imposes a minimum $500 fine, temporarily strips the driver of a license and potentially imposes up to 30 days in jail. Speeding is currently a traffic violation, and the law will make it a criminal misdemeanor offense. It also increases the punishment for repeat offenders.
According to Lori Nishimura, a deputy with the attorney general's office who helped author the bill, said that previously, a repeat offender going 99 mph in a 35 mph zone paid a $225 fine, retained his license and served no jail time.
"Most people got off with just paying fines," Nishimura said. "For them to serve jail time, they had to kill someone, or we had to prove negligence or reckless driving, which can be difficult to do."
According to the state Department of Transportation, 69 of the 140 traffic fatalities in Hawaii last year listed speeding as a contributing factor.
STAR-BULLETIN / AUGUST 2001
Elizabeth Kekoa was killed in this van that was hit by a vehicle driven by Nicholas Tudisco. Tudisco later admitted to racing and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
On Oahu this year, at least 47 percent of 43 traffic fatalities were due to speeding. This is compared with 27 percent of 33 traffic fatalities at the same time last year due to speeding.
Recognizing the issue, the federal government has provided the state with about $350,000 to pay for overtime hours needed for enforcing compliance with speed limits.
The Honolulu Police Department will use its portion of the funds to crack down on speeders and conduct more speed traps.
According to state court records, law enforcement officers issued 944 citations statewide last year for racing on highways. Of those, 110 were for going 30 mph over the speed limit.
Elijah Maduli, 22, who has not had a license for the past three years because he accumulated more than 40 speeding tickets, said the law might decrease the amount of traffic fatalities. But while Maduli said he likes the theory behind the law, he feels it unfairly targets street racers.
Maduli said the law will be ineffective at curbing speeders and actually cost more than the government expects to enforce.
"Hawaii has a lot of racers and people who soup up their cars. ... They might think twice before they do it, but they'll still race or speed if they are in a hurry to get somewhere," Maduli said. "What's more is that they (the government) will have to pay to house these nonviolent people in jail."
But Caldwell (D, Manoa) sees value in the changes.
"Although it only directly affects a small percentage of people, it could save a lot of lives and grief for the families of the victims," Caldwell said. "Hopefully the stiffer penalties will serve as a deterrent, and people will be less willing to take the risk and put their own lives as well as others' in danger."
STAR-BULLETIN / FEBRUARY 2002
Police and fire personnel closed two lanes on the westbound H-1 freeway near the Vineyard offramp to clear debris from what was believed to be a racing-related crash.
Program offers free soft drinks to designated drivers
Starting this weekend, soft drinks will be on the house at nearly 60 nightclubs, bars and restaurants across the state this summer.
The offer is for designated drivers and is part of the state Department of Transportation's "D-squared" program that runs through Labor Day weekend.
"Hopefully this program will provide options for our drivers, particularly the younger ones," Transportation Director Rodney Haraga said.
The program will be advertised on radio stations throughout the state and include Big City Diner, Ocean Club and Ryan's Grill at Ward Centre.
Last year, alcohol was involved in 67 of the 140 traffic fatalities in Hawaii.
The federal government provided the state nearly $400,000 to enforce the drunken-driving law this year.
On Oahu, police Maj. Susan Dowsett said officers will use their portion of the funds to continue conducting sobriety checkpoints around the island, especially during holiday weekends.