Hawaii Drunk Driving Laws

If you’re headed to a luau and planning to partake in some drinking, make sure you plan to have a designated driver before the festivities get underway. If you’ve been charged with a DUI while in Hawaii you can face serious penalties, whether you live in Hawaii or on the mainland.

While it is best to be safe or plan to have a designated driver if you want to drink alcohol in Hawaii, if you find yourself facing a drunk driving charge, you should make sure you seek out a knowledgeable Hawaii DUI defense attorney to help you figure out the best way to handle your case.

Hawaii Drunk Driving Laws

Hawaii law refers to a drunk driving offense as operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, or OVUII. In Hawaii, the BAC limit that is illegal is .08 % or more. In 2019, Hawaii took steps to amend the definition of this crime, as well as enacting stricter penalties.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: A BAC of .15% or more; driving with a child under 15 in the vehicle, being a “habitual violator” defined as having two prior DUI convictions or one prior “habitual” DUI conviction in the last ten years

The first offense is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • A minimum of 14 hours of a substance abuse program and counseling
  • A license suspension of no less than 1 year to no more than 18 months
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) upon license reinstatement
  • $25 surcharge to the neurotrauma special fund
  • $25 surcharge to the trauma system special fund
  • Up to one or more of the following including up to 48 hours to five days imprisonment, $250 to $1,000 in fines, or 72 hours of community service

second offense within 10 years of the first offense is also a misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • A two to three-year suspension of your driver’s license privileges
  • An Ignition interlock device requirement upon license reinstatement
  • $1,000 to $3,000 in fines
  • $25 surcharge to the neurotrauma special fund
  • $50 surcharge to the trauma system special fund
  • 240 hours of community service or no more than 5 to 30 days imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum of at least 48 hours of that jail time

Hawaii classifies habitual offenders as those with three or more OVUII charges and considers subsequent offenses as a separate Class C felony punishable by:

  • No less than 10 days to 5 years imprisonment, of which at least 48 hours must be served back-to-back
  • Up to five years probation
  • A three- to five-year license revocation, with a mandatory requirement that an ignition interlock device be installed in your car
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • Counseling by a certified substance abuse professional
  • $25 surcharge to the neurotrauma special fund
  • $50 surcharge to the trauma system special fund

Under 21 Drunk Driving in Hawaii

If you are under 21 years of age, you can be charged with operating a vehicle under the influence if you are found with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system. Penalties include a 180-day license suspension, up to 36 hours of community work service, and a fine of $150-$500.

If a law enforcement officer has probable cause that you are under the influence of alcohol, an officer can use a series of tests known as field sobriety tests to determine whether you are intoxicated. In addition, to determine your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), the officer will administer a breathalyzer or chemical blood test.

There are many types of typical defenses you can argue to help defend yourself against a DUI charge. Defenses could include that the officer did not follow the proper procedure when operating the chemical breath test machine or that the officer did not have probable cause to make an arrest. Having an attorney experienced in litigating DUI cases can help you determine the strongest defenses in your particular case.

You may also have the option of getting a lesser charge with a plea bargain. Your DUI defense attorney can negotiate to get a reduced sentence to avoid the harshest consequences of a drunk driving conviction.

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