Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Hawaii

Luaus on the beach and private parties on the islands of Hawaii might sometimes involve alcoholic beverages. People who go to these events with the intent to consume those beverages should ensure they have a designated driver to take them back home. Hawaii's laws don't allow people who are under the influence of alcohol to operate a motor vehicle, so driving after consuming alcohol can result in serious consequences if the driver is caught by law enforcement officers.

Hawaii BAC Limits

Hawaii uses the same limits as most states in the United States. Drivers who are at least 21 can't drive if they have a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more. Drivers under that age can't drive with a BAC of .02 percent or more. Commercial drivers have a limit of .04 percent. Hawaii also has a special classification for drivers who are considered highly intoxicated. The highly intoxicated driver classification applies to anyone with a BAC of .15 percent or higher.

Determining BAC in Hawaii

Law enforcement officials can use a series of tests known as field sobriety tests to determine if the driver is intoxicated. Only standardized tests are permissible, which means tests like counting backwards aren't permissible. In order to determine the BAC of a driver, a breath test or blood test must be done. If the breath test is used, two test results must be obtained. Both of those must show a level at or above the legal threshold. Only one blood test result is needed as long as it is conclusive.

Plea Bargains and Defense Strategies for Drunk Driving

Hawaii state law doesn't permit plea bargains for wet reckless convictions. This means that driver's can plea to the lesser charge of reckless driving instead of the drunk driving charge in order to get a reduced sentence.

There are several options for drunk driving defense strategies. The suitability of each depends on the circumstances surrounding the charge. Improper training of the person administering the breath test or blood test, non-standardized field sobriety test usage, and illegal initiation of a traffic stop resulting in a drunk driving charge are three possible strategies for drunk driving defense in Hawaii. An attorney familiar with drunk driving laws can help you to determine which defense strategy is well suited for your case.

Hawaii Penalties for Drunk Driving

Drunk driving conviction penalties increase in severity with each subsequent conviction. Harsher penalties for highly intoxicated drivers are also enforced in Hawaii. The state does have a five year washout period, so only convictions in the previous five years count toward the number of prior convictions.

A first drunk driving conviction results in 48 hours to five days in jail, a fine of $150 to $1,000, a license suspension of 90 days to one year, and at least 14 hours of alcohol abuse program participation. HIDs face a suspension minimum of six months on a first conviction. In some cases, community service might be ordered in lieu of or in addition to a jail term.

A second drunk driving conviction requires a minimum of five days up to a maximum of 14 days in jail. Community service can be ordered instead if the court desires. Alcohol abuse program participation and a fine of $500 to $1,500 is also imposed. A driver's license suspension of at least one year but no more than two years is mandatory for a second drunk driving conviction in a five-year period.

A third drunk driving conviction requires a minimum of 10 days in jail and a maximum of 30 days. The fine ranges from $500 to $2,500. The vehicle the driver was operating might be confiscated by the state. The driver's license suspension for this conviction is one to five years. While community service might be ordered for third drunk driving convictions, it can't be offered in lieu of a jail term.

Individuals who are charged with drunk driving in Hawaii should contact a drunk driving attorneys who can help them to learn about defense strategies and laws pertaining to drunk driving.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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