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Friday, March 9, 2001

Yonamine to
change plea to
guilty in DUI case

By Debra Barayuga

State Rep. Noboru Yonamine, who pleaded not guilty earlier this week in Ewa District Court to driving while intoxicated, wants to change his plea.

Yonamine, in a letter to his attorney Pamela Tamashiro dated yesterday, said his reason for doing so is simple: "I do not wish to emotionally burden my family, friends and loyal constituents any further by extending this matter.

"I have erred, and I wish to commence paying my debt to society as soon as possible," he wrote.

Yonamine was arrested a month ago after an officer noticed him weaving across lanes on the H-1 freeway near the Radford Drive overpass. He failed a sobriety test and had an alcohol level of 0.134, above the legal driving limit of 0.08.

Tamashiro said she will try to move up his change of plea as quickly as possible.

Tamashiro said she will ask that the court impose a minimum fine of $150, one of three possible penalties for a first-time drunken driving conviction.

"I'm hopeful the court will go along," she said. "There's no aggravating factors as a result of his arrest -- he was cooperative."

While Yonamine had a previous DUI conviction, state DUI laws will treat it as a first-time offense with less severe penalties than if it had happened within the past five years.

Other possible penalties are no less than 48 hours or up to five days in jail or 72 hours of community service.

Mandatory penalties include a 14-hour alcohol abuse class and suspension of his driver's license.

The state Administrative Driver's License Revocation office has already suspended his license for three months, effective March 11.

E-mail to City Desk

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