During the holiday season in Hawaii, a simple fact of life, in addition
to increased traffic practically everywhere, motorists face an increased
risk of being involved in a Driving Under the Influence incident, whether
as a driver or as a victim.
The Honolulu Police Department has made it abundantly clear in recent years
that over major holidays, Christmas and New Year chief among them, they
will increase patrols and sobriety checkpoints to stop drunk drivers in
their tracks. Over the 2012 Labor Day weekend, for instance, HPD made
a total of 34 DUI arrests. In 2011, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and
Toyota Hawaii recognized several HPD officers for their outstanding efforts
to reduce drunk driving on Oahu and impressive DUI arrest counts.
A recent measure has been implemented to require DUI offenders to install
ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, which disable the vehicle
when the device detects alcohol in the driver's blood.
A look at traffic fatality statistics in Hawaii provides insight into the
grave concern among law enforcement and community groups such as MADD
regarding drunk driving. In 2009, 48% of traffic fatalities in Hawaii
were related to drunk driving, the highest rate in the United States.
In addition to stepped up enforcement, Hawaii has also increased penalties
for offenders. First-time offenders face jail time, fines, and license
suspension. The penalties increase for subsequent offenses. A Highly Intoxicated
Driver, with a Blood Alcohol Content of .15% or higher, faces even steeper
penalties, including a mandatory license suspension of six months, hefty
fines, and jail time. The legal limit is .08% in Hawaii.
Several lives have been lost to DUI fatalities on Oahu in 2012. A man responsible
for the death of an infant and critical injuries to the family while driving
under the influence was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison as a
The most effective way to avoid a DUI incident or arrest is, of course,
to refrain entirely from drinking and driving. But even then, no one is
safe when a drunk driver is behind the wheel.
Here are some tips to keeping safe, and to keeping the holiday season joyous:
- When attending events that serve alcohol, always arrange for a designated driver.
- If you've had enough to drink, and are worried about driving, call
a cab or a family member or friend to pick you up. The cost of a parking
ticket or getting towed is minimal compared to the potential aftermath
of a drunk driving incident.
- If you've not been drinking alcohol, look out for those that may be
intoxicated and offer them a safe ride home. The life you save could be your own.
We here at Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner wish everyone a safe and joyous
holiday season, and good health and cheer in 2013!