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Lawmakers Focus on Toughening DUI Laws

January 31, 2019, 5:45 PM HST
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Hawai‘i lawmakers were shocked by the tragic traffic incident in Kakaʻako this week that took the lives of three innocent victims and injured several more. Representatives and Senators are in the process of passing several strong new laws aimed at drunk and impaired driving.

Alins Sumang was charged with three counts of Manslaughter following the incident in Kaka‘ako. PC: Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety

“These types of deaths are avoidable,” said Rep. Chris Lee, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s frustrating, especially when you know people who have been involved, and we all do,” said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “When someone is under the influence and kills someone while driving, it is not an accident, it is murder.”

Rep. Lee was joined by Rep. Della Au Belatti, Sens. Karl Rhoads, Lorraine R. Inouye and Breene Harimoto, as well as members of the Honolulu Police Department and MADD—Mothers Against Drunk Driving in announcing their efforts.

The group detailed some bills already introduced and asked the public for ideas that should be included in legislation under consideration.

“I’ve had close calls as a pedestrian just walking to work,” said Sen. Rhoads, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We are discussing several good bills but will look at every good idea that will help prevent this in the future.”

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Some of the bills include:

  • HB703: Prohibits any person convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant from purchasing or publicly consuming alcohol for a period of three years following conviction or administrative license revocation.
  • HB753:Requires compliance with the ignition interlock program before an interlock device is removed. Allows for a constant sobriety program.
  • SB641: Adds the definition of “substance abuse” and amends the definitions of “drug” and “substance” for purposes of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant violations.
  • SB645: Requires that the revocation of license period be tolled for any period in which the person does not have an ignition interlock device installed on a vehicle owned or operated by the person. Establishes requirements for removal of the ignition interlock device. Allows a defendant to enroll in an alcohol or substance abuse education or treatment program, or a sobriety program.
  • HB757 The Vison Zero bill which requires the Department of Transportation and the county transportation departments to adopt a vision zero policy that seeks to prevent and ultimately eliminate all traffic fatalities through a combination of engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency response strategies that focus on equity.
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“Our communities need to be directly involved in community safety,” Sen. Inouye said. “I think we will see a lot of action on this issue this year.”

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