The invention of the automobile was a crowning achievement of the Industrial Revolution. Yet for all of their efficiency and convenience, motorized vehicles are lethal weapons and deathtraps when operated by impaired drivers. No impairment is more widespread than that caused by alcohol consumption.
It is no wonder that states like Hawaii enact strict penalties for those who drive under the influence (DUI). Here are the penalties one may face when caught drunk behind the wheel as well as their rights.
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is a measure used by law enforcement to determine whether a driver is too impaired to safely operate a vehicle. Usually expressed as mass per volume, a BAC of .03 percent, for instance, would mean that .03 grams of alcohol comprised every 100 grams of blood.
In Hawaii, this reading would pose no problem for the driver since the law stipulates that BAC must be at least .08 percent to indicate degraded driving ability. For drivers under 21, the BAC is .02 percent according to Hawaii DUI laws.
What Happens If I Get Pulled Over?
If police officers suspect you have been driving under the influence, they are duty-bound under Hawaii DUI laws to pull you over. After determining a legal authorization to drive (license, registration and insurance), they can also request that the driver perform simple coordination tasks. If unable, the driver must submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. Should the test reveal a BAC of .08 percent or higher, the officers are required to arrest the driver and relieve him or her of the vehicle.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
According to Hawaiisn statute, getting behind the wheel and into traffic is a tacit expression of willingness to have your BAC evaluated. Everyone in the Aloha State who drives is therefore compelled to take the test upon request of authorized law enforcement officials. This is a legal doctrine known as implied consent, and is taught to Hawaiians as a part of the licensing and permitting process. In short, you can not refuse because you already agreed to do it.
What Happens If I Refuse It?
Unwillingness to take a BAC test is treated severely under Hawaii traffic laws. You can lose your license for a full year for refusing just once. Second and third offenses carry two year each of driving privilege loss. These penalties are comparable to those for DUI conviction. Refusing to submit to an inebriation test is a threat to public safety according to Hawaii DUI laws, and a serious crime in and of itself.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless?”
“Wet Reckless” is essentially a plea bargain whereby the driver pleads guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving. If however, the driver is later charged with DUI a second time, the reckless conviction is upgraded to a first offense DUI. This means second offense punishments are ordered. Hawaii DUI laws do allow this plea in general but individual judges have discretion as to its acceptance. Again, this option only applies to a first offense.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
If convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII, Hawaii’s unique designation for DUI), the driver will be subject to certain statutory sanctions. First of all, the license is reclaimed by the Administrative Driver’s License Revocation Office (ADLRO) for a year or more.
If the driver owns the vehicle, the registration can also be in jeopardy. Furthermore, an ignition interlock device is always ordered for those hardship cases when restricted driving privileges are allowed. This instrument measures BAC before the driver can start the car. Jail time is common for repeat offenders.
First Offense DUI
A first OVUII conviction invariably results in a suspended license for one year. Financial penalties will range between $150 to $1,000. Hawaii DUI laws ordinarily impose no more jail time than what has been served at the time of arrest. However, participation in a 14-hour drug and alcohol education course is mandatory. Community service may or may not come into play.
If a second offense occurs within five years of the first conviction, fines will fall between $500 and $1,500; jail time can last up to 30 days; or the driver must perform up to 240 hours of community service. Driving entitlement may be withheld for up to two years. This is a long time to be taking the bus. Retaining expert legal counsel is always a wise strategy.
If, within five years of the previous two convictions, you are again charged with the same offense, the fines will then max out at $2,500. You will serve 10 to 30 days in jail and your license will be revoked for another two years. Hawaii DUI laws show little mercy at this stage.
If a fourth offense is committed within 10 years of prior convictions, the ADLRO can suspend your driving privileges from five to 10 years. Sentencing guidelines relative to jail time and monetary payments are not specified, meaning a judge may have more discretion in these areas after a fourth offense. Of course, discretion does not necessarily imply leniency.
What It All Means
Hawaii is a favorite vacation spot for travelers. The statewide economy and commercial establishments have an interest in keeping the roads safe, navigable and clean. Tourists want to enjoy the islands without fear of death and injury. Hawaii DUI laws against drunk drivers are one way to assure it.
Anyone charged with OVUII should seek the best secure seasoned legal representation to ensure due process and minimal sanctions. While representation is no guarantee of escaping sentencing, a good lawyer will make sure the proceedings are fair and thorough.