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Driving under the influence: 'tis never the season

Driving under the influence: 'tis never the season

December 23, 2012

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 repeat offender.

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!

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