Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, May 14, 1999

Military not
slighted on licenses

Question: I recently went to renew my driver's license, which had expired a few months back. I'm active duty military and can still drive a car with an expired license. I was charged $5 for every three months that the Hawaii license had expired (I ended up paying $10 extra). Can you imagine how much it would cost other soldiers finishing their tours and coming back to the islands to renew their licenses after a number of years? It's a total ripoff on military members, who aren't able to come back merely to do a license renewal. What should a soldier do, say, "I'm sorry, I was fighting in Yugoslavia or Iraq and couldn't renew my license on time?" Well, thank you, County of Honolulu, for charging soldiers extra for protecting your freedom and your way of life.

Answer: Any Hawaii resident, military or not, "can always renew by mail," said David Mau, the city's assistant licensing administrator.

You can renew by mail six months in advance and up to 90 days after the expiration date. "There is a nine-month window in which to renew," Mau said.

Nonmilitary residents can renew only twice by mail, but that restriction was eliminated for the military a few years ago.

Also, state law allows a 90-day grace period after a license expires before the driver has to pay a reactivation fee. Then it's $5 a month for a maximum $50. If you were charged $10, then Mau surmised your license had expired five months earlier.

However, "we do make concessions" to members of the military and others who may be away from Honolulu for extended periods.

"If they are with the Peace Corps or on a mission in some far-fetched place and the mail does take 30 to 45 days, we make concessions," he said. "For those military residents and even for nonresidents who were stationed in the state of Hawaii and deployed to Bosnia and Haiti, we also had concessions for them. We did it on a one-on-one basis."

He emphasized that the "grace" period is only for the reactivation fee. Regardless if you are in the military, you have to have a current license to drive, he said.

As for your statement that active-duty military members "can still drive a car with an expired license," Mau said many active-duty personnel believe that to be true. However, "that is not necessarily true. It is dependent upon what state their license was last issued and what their state laws are."

You can drive here with a license from another state, but in Hawaii, "you cannot drive around with a Hawaii license unless it is valid. When it expires, it is not valid," Mau said.

Also, he said mail renewals normally are required to be notarized. But if you're in the middle of nowhere, that will be considered.



To the young man in a Union 76 mechanic's blue uniform who rescued us when we were stranded at Manoa Cemetery with a flat tire on April 7. My husband had a cellular phone, but could not remember the number to call. This nice young man fixed the tire and refused to take any payment. -- Two grateful senior citizens



To all the participants at the ILH track and field championships last Saturday. I was especially pleased to see a nice gesture of sportsmanship by the Punahou boys, who walked over and congratulated the Iolani boys for winning their first championship. I've been associated with coaching off and on for 30 years and this is first time I've ever seen that. -- Bill

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