Officials aim to keep
holiday safe and legal

State and county authorities say they will be out in force this holiday weekend, making sure that the July Fourth fun is safe and legal.

Police will be setting up sobriety checkpoints to deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Checkpoints will be conducted at unannounced times and places until Tuesday.

Of the 37 fatal collisions this year, 14 were alcohol- or drug-related, according to police. Speeding was a factor in 22 of the collisions. Hawaii had 142 traffic fatalities last year, 60 of which were alcohol-related and 67 speed-related.

Police from all four counties are partnering with the state Department of Transportation in the federal sobriety checkpoint program that runs year round.

From Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, police will be conducting at least one sobriety checkpoint every week.

Transportation Department officials also said that more than 50 nightclubs, bars and restaurants are participating in its "D2" summer program, which provides free soft drinks to designated drivers. The "D2" campaign is to drive home the "don't drink and drive" message.

Another state agency, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, is reminding Hawaii residents that alcohol and fireworks are prohibited in state parks, forest reserves and other lands it manages, including small boat harbors. The department, the state Sheriff Division and county police departments are conducting joint safety patrols this summer at state parks and small boat harbors to crack down on these illegal activities.

"We encourage the public to have an enjoyable holiday but at the same time protect our parks, forests, harbors and open lands with 'malama aina,' a caring spirit for the land," said department Director Peter Young. "By doing so, we can enjoy our beautiful natural resources throughout the year."

The agency also reminds residents that open fires, driving on beaches and unleashed dogs are prohibited on state lands. Violators can be found guilty of a petty misdemeanor, face a maximum penalty of $500 a day and be liable for any damages.

To report problems at state parks and small boat harbors, call the State Park Tip Line at 586-1352 or call 911. A list of participating "D2" businesses is available at www.hawaii.gov/dot/publicaffairs.

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