Hawaii DUI Laws: FAQ

What are the court procedures for a DUI in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, persons who are arrested for DUI have to go through two separate proceedings. The administrative license revocation process and court. Here, you will find out what to expect at court.

Initial Appearance

When you bailed out, or were released the next day by a judge, you were given a court date. Generally speaking, that is your arraignment date.

Arraignment

Arraignment is where you enter an appearance and say whether you are guilty or not guilty. You do not have the right to a jury trial unless charged with Habitual DUI.

Trial

Your next court date will be about 6 weeks after the arraignment date. That is when the State, through the Prosecutor's Office, must present evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while impaired at the time of arrest. For blood alcohol cases, a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is enough to secure a conviction. If the State's witnesses aren't there at the first court appearance, they will generally be allowed to continue the case for about one month to try and get their witnesses into court. The State may get a number of continuances, but if they don't bring you to trial within 6 months of arrest, your case can get dismissed because you have a right to a speedy trial.

What happens at the ADLRO hearing in Hawaii?

What you aren't told is that unless you subpoena the officers, you won't have much of a hearing. If this is your first DUI, or the first within 5 years, you will most likely be able to obtain a temporary work permit, even if you lose the hearing. This means that instead of losing your license for 90 days you only lose it for 30 days absolutely, and can drive to and from, and maybe even during work, for the last 60 days of the revocation. To find against you, the hearing officer needs to find you are guilty by a preponderance of evidence (just over 50%). If you lose your license at the administrative process, the license is destroyed, and you have to be re­licensed at the end of the revocation period. That means you will have to go through the written and driving test to get your license back. Although the technical rules can be disadvantageous to you, if you know them well enough they can also be used to your advantage. For instance, if you respond on time, and don't get a hearing within 25 days, you win.

What are the penalties for a felony habitual DUI in Hawaii?

The penalties for a habitual felony DUI are as follows:

  • An indeterminate term of imprisonment of five years; or
  • A term of probation of five years, with conditions to include:
  • Mandatory revocation of license and privilege to operate a vehicle for a period not less than one year but not more than five years;
  • Not less than ten days imprisonment, of which at least forty-eight hours shall be served consecutively;
  • Referral to a certified substance abuse counselor as provided in section 291E-61(d);
  • A surcharge of $25 to be deposited into the neurotrauma special fund;
  • May be charged a surcharge of up to $50 to be deposited into the trauma system special fund if the court so orders; and
  • Vehicle Forfeiture.

What is a Notice Of Revocation & Hearing Request under Hawaii DUI Law?

The revocation hearing will usually occur prior to your arraignment on the separate criminal charges. About one week after your arrest you will get a letter saying that the findings have been sustained and the length of the revocation. You will have 6 days from the date on that letter to respond for a hearing in order to get into the ADLRO prior to your license going into revocation 30 days after your arrest. That means if it took four days to get to you, you only have two days to respond.

The ADLRO has even had this modified by the legislature so that your response must be in their office within 6 days, no just postmarked by that time. If you respond in time, you will get a hearing within 25 days of your arrest (you can still get a hearing if you miss the 6 day deadline, but it will be at least 30 days after your arrest). That is because the temporary license given to you (or which should have been given to you) by the police is only good for 30 days. By sending in the card provided by the revocation office, you will receive another letter that tells the date of your hearing.

Can the Court suspend my driving privileges for DUI in Hawaii?

Yes. A suspension of your driving privileges for a criminal conviction for DUI, means that you must surrender to the court, and thus cannot use, your driver's license for the period of the suspension. However, at the end of the period of suspension, the driver's license that you surrendered, can be returned to you, and you can resume using it for the remainder of the period that it was originally issued for. An administrative revocation by the ADLRO means that you will never be able to use that driver's license again. At the end of the period of revocation, you will have to apply for a new license (as if you were applying for a license for the first time).

Why can't the court suspend my driving privileges if they are already suspended?

It is both statutorily prohibited, and a logical impossibility, to suspend driving privileges that have already been administratively revoked by the ADLRO. However, it is still quite common for judges to order that your license "... shall be suspended for 90 days, to run concurrently with any period of administrative revocation." A license suspension for a first offense always involves 30 days of absolute suspension. During the 30 day period there is no driving, anywhere, for any reason. However, when a conditional driving permit is properly granted, for 60 of the 90 days, you will be permitted to drive:

  • (1) to and from work; or
    (2) to and from work and for work related purposes.

The conditional permit can also enable you to drive to and from any driver's education classes that are ordered by the court, and to and from any court­ ordered alcohol abuse treatment or counseling. However, it does no good to receive a conditional permit as part of a criminal sentence, unless you either beat you ADLRO case, or are awarded similar conditional driving privileges by the ADLRO.

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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