NEW DUI LAW JAN. 1
New DUI law acts fast on 'highly' drunk drivers
Alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Honolulu have actually gone down to 10 this year
Motorists deemed "highly intoxicated" will have their vehicle registrations and license plates immediately seized and lose their driving privileges for six months, under a new state law that takes effect Jul. 1.*
And even if it is their first arrest and conviction for operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, motorists who qualify as highly intoxicated drivers will face penalties as if they were repeat offenders. Under the new law, a highly intoxicated driver is someone whose blood-alcohol level measures 0.15 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
A driver may not legally operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. The penalties for motorists caught operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol of at least 0.08 but less than 0.15 remain the same.
The new law takes effect as all four county police departments step up traffic enforcement during holidays.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
At Nanakuli Beach Park yesterday, police, soldiers from Schofield Barracks and community members launched the "Live and Let Live" program for the Leeward Coast. A wrecked car served as a reminder that drunken driving kills. Darin Awong, above, showed one of the signs as seen through the broken window of the wrecked car. CLICK FOR LARGE
Honolulu police have been conducting checkpoints year-round. Last month Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa created a task force to discourage traffic-related deaths due to speeding. So far this year 88 people have died on Oahu roadways compared with 74 at this time last year and 67 on this date in 2004, Honolulu police said.
The number of alcohol-related crashes involving fatalities have actually gone down to 10 so far this year, from 15 on this date last year, and from 21 at this time in 2004, according to HPD.
On the Big Island, police are doubling the number of holiday checkpoints this year to 43, said Sgt. Dexter Veriato, Hawaii County Police Department Traffic Services.
So far this year, 33 people have died on state and county roads on the Big Island. Nine of the deaths were determined to be alcohol-related. In all of last year, there were 34 traffic deaths on the Big Island, 23 were alcohol-related, Veriato said.
This year's tally does not include the five deaths that occurred Nov. 10 in a head-on collision in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. National Park officials are investigating that case. They are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to determine whether the deaths were alcohol-related, said Ranger Mardie Lane.
On the Valley Isle, the Maui Police Department has added roving patrols looking for impaired drivers to its holiday DUI checkpoints. Maui police have made it more expensive for drivers arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant to get out of jail. This year, bail increased to $1,000. In the other counties bail is $250 for first-time offenders and $500 for repeat offenders.
On the Garden Isle, the Kauai Police Department has added four officers to conduct DUI enforcement at night during the holidays.
So far this year 13 people have died in nine fatal traffic crashes on Kauai. Of the nine crashes five were alcohol-related, Kauai police said. Last year 10 people died in nine crashes and two of those crashes were alcohol-related, police said.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
» A new law that says motorists will be deemed "highly" intoxicated and face stiff penalties if their blood alcohol level is 0.15 percent or higher takes effect July 1. A story on Page A3 in some of yesterday's editions incorrectly said the law would take effect Jan. 1.