Teen drivers get red light at Judiciary
A computer glitch snags Hawaii's teen licensing process
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You're 16 years old and just passed the road test. That means you can now get your driver's license, right?
A new requirement that went into effect July 1 and a computer snafu will mean that 16- and 17-year-olds getting a provisional driver's license will have one more step, at least for the next three to six months, before they receive their licenses.
These teens will have to show that they have no outstanding traffic or other violations. But the state Judiciary's computers aren't ready yet to relay that information to the city's driver licensing computers, so that clearance must first come from the courts.
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Ben Duncan has his learner's permit and is looking forward to getting his driver's license next month.
"Being able to go places when I want to ... just to be able to get in the car and go, to the movies, the beach, anyplace I want to go," the 16-year-old Sunset Beach resident said.
Duncan, however, said it will be a hassle to fulfill a new requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds wanting to get a driver's license.
"It's going to take a lot of driving around. I'm going to be missing a day of school just to take my driver's test," he said. "It will be hard."
The new requirement, which passed in 2006, went into effect July 1.
"The original law said that if you, the minor, had any pending (traffic) violations that may result in the suspension or revocation of a provisional license or a driver's license, then you cannot get a driver's license," said Dennis Kamimura, chief of the city's Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division. "But the law did not tell the family courts and the district courts that they're supposed to notify (the county). So Act 105 made it mandatory that the courts have to notify us so we would prevent the issuance of a provisional driver's license."
Kamimura said that the city has been working with the state since last fall to make that "seamless" exchange of information possible electronically.
The city said it completed the necessary changes, but the state Judiciary notified the city on June 15 that it would not be able to complete its end by July 1 and it will take about three to six months before the computer system is completed.
The new requirement could potentially affect thousands of teens during the next few months.
The state Judiciary did not have a response ready yesterday, a spokeswoman said.
"Their system is more complicated than ours evidently," Kamimura said.
So the city is requiring teen drivers to go down to the Traffic Violations Bureau at the District Court to get a clearance before a license is issued.
"We actually give them a form. It's a form that specifically notifies the District Court that the minor is here to obtain this letter from you so the (court) clerk knows what the minor is there for," Kamimura said.
Kamimura said he heard of one case of a teen who passed his road test on Monday, received the form from the city and then went to the Traffic Violations Bureau yesterday and waited for 20 minutes and then went back to driver's licensing site on Dillingham Boulevard and got his license in about 10 minutes.
Kamimura said it will be an inconvenience for these teens until the computer interface with the Judiciary is complete.
"Once the interface goes in, then we'll look it up on the computer," Kamimura said. "The violations bureau will only flag records or provide us records for only those guys with pending violations. If their record is not flagged, then we can issue the license. It will save the minor and his parent some time."
Nathan Fuluvaka, 16, of Laie, said the new requirement is a waste of time but won't prevent him from getting his license within the next six months.
"It'll just be more inconvenient for families. It'll just be easier for everyone if you could actually do it at the time you get your license," he said. "I will still get my license because I'm pretty sure every 16-year-old will get his license when he can get it."