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Skateboarder's death reminds that Hawaii's rate of drunk driving deaths exceeds national average

Skateboarder's death reminds that Hawaii's rate of drunk driving deaths exceeds national average

May 22, 2014

Drunk driving is contributing to danger on Hawaii’s streets and highways. Crashes involving drunk driving killed 51 people in the state in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. DUI accounted for about 40 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities in 2012.

The rate of traffic fatalities involving alcohol impairment was higher in Hawaii than the nation as a whole. Hawaii reported 0.51 such fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2012, compared with the U.S. rate of 0.35.

This month, a driver was charged with driving under the influence and negligent homicide in the death of a Honolulu skateboarder on Kamehameha Highway in Kaaawa,Hawaii News Now reported. Friends and family of the young skateboard have turned a concrete highway barrier near the accident scene into a memorial with flowers and handwritten tributes.

Investigators told the newspaper that alcohol was an issue in the accident. The skateboarder rode into the path of the vehicle, police said.

The death marked the 25th traffic fatality in Hawaii this year.

MADD CAMPAIGN

Mothers Against Drunk Driving suggests the state could do more to prevent drunk driving. The organization, which rates states’ anti-drunk driving efforts, gave Hawaii four out of five stars in its most recent report.

MADD awarded the state one star each for sobriety checkpoints, required ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders, enhanced penalties for drunk drivers with child passengers, and administrative license revocation for people arrested on drunk driving charges.

But MADD withheld a fifth star for Hawaii, saying it lacks a program that makes judges and prosecutors available to streamline the acquisition of warrants to test the blood-alcohol levels of DUI suspects who refuse to voluntarily allow a test.

People suspected of drunk driving have the right to refuse a blood-alcohol test in Hawaii, but they can also have their licenses revoked for refusal.

Hawaii is a destination for people enjoying honeymoons, celebrating anniversaries and observing other milestones in life. Unfortunately, that also can mean excessive alcohol use and the increased potential for fatal car accidents.

After accidents involving drunk driving, drunk drivers face criminal charges. The families of those harmed by drunk drivers also may have a legal option to bring a civil lawsuit, to hold the drunk driver accountable for the personal injury or wrongful death that they have caused.

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