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Honolulu DUI And Traffic Law Blog

A prescription doesn't make it okay to drive on drugs in Hawaii

People find criminal law quite confusing. The confusion is understandable given how each state has its own rules and laws. Even if someone knows the laws here in Hawaii, the laws frequently change. Just this summer, for example, the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) offenders increased substantially.

Lawmakers, worried that too many people kept getting behind the wheel again and again while impaired, passed a new law that went into effect on July 1, 2019, officially increasing the penalties for DUI offenders. However, it isn't just the changing nature of the legal system that leaves people confused. Rather, the definitions of DUI and what exactly the law covers also seem to confuse many people.

Distracted driving can result in severe consequences

In Hawaii, just the same as every other state, distracted driving remains a serious concern among most people. It only takes a minor distraction to cause a serious accident that results in one or more people suffering an injury or fatality.

Every year, there are thousands of distracted driving accidents throughout the country. Furthermore, distracted driving killed more than 3,100 Americans in 2017 alone. And that doesn't even take into consideration the number of injuries.

How do police detect DUI?

When you take to the road after consuming alcohol, there's always a risk of being pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. Even if you think you're following the rules of the road, police are on the lookout for anyone who is driving in a suspicious or erratic manner.

Here are three methods police use to detect DUI:

  • Observation of illegal or erratic driving: For example, if an officer is watching traffic from the side of the road, they may be looking for drivers who are swerving in and out of their lane, driving extremely slowly or ignoring traffic signs. This is the type of probable cause an officer needs to pull you over and learn more about what's happening.
  • Field sobriety tests: If you're stopped by police, they're likely to conduct a variety of field sobriety tests to determine if you've been drinking and driving. These typically include standing on one leg, walking in a straight line and/or a speech test.
  • Chemical test: If you fail one or more field sobriety test, expect the officer to ask you to take a chemical test. These tests are normally taken by testing a breath sample, urine or your blood. At the scene, the use of a Breathalyzer is most common.

These defenses to drunk driving are common

You're pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, arrested at the scene and taken to a local jail in Honolulu for processing. Although your mind is racing and you have concerns about the future, it's critical to calm down and think long and hard about the steps you can take to protect your legal rights.

It's critical to remember that a criminal charge of drunk driving is not the same as a conviction. You'll have your day in court, and when you do it's your time to defend yourself against the charges.

DUI: From booking to bail

The last place you want to find yourself is on the side of the road for suspicion of DUI. While it's possible you may be able to escape an arrest, not everyone is this fortunate.

If you're arrested for suspicion of DUI, it's imperative to keep calm and follow the directions given by the officer. Resisting arrest or acting difficult will only make things worse.

Breathalyzer results are not aways accurate

If you fail a Breathalyzer test during a traffic stop, you typically receive drunk driving charges immediately. In the moment, you may feel as though there is nothing you can do to fight the charges and that your conviction is an open and shut case, but this is not always true.

While Breathalyzer results qualify as strong evidence in the eyes of the court, there are several factors that may affect the accuracy of these devices, and it is always wise to examine every aspect of the evidence against you as you build a legal defense.

The sub-0.08% DUI: It can happen to you

If you ask any police officer about the legal limit of 0.08% for blood alcohol concentration, they will tell you not to put too much emphasis on that limit. You can get a DUI even if you're under it.

This is, in fact, one of the more common misconceptions that people hold. They have seen it so many times in movies and TV shows: Someone gets pulled over, gets a breath test, and then gets arrested because their BAC is over 0.08%. It's easy to start thinking that all police really look for is that high reading or that you can't get arrested if you blow a 0.07% instead.

Understand the impact of a DUI in Oahu

Hawaii is extremely strict when it comes to DUIs, particularly in places like Oahu where there is tourism and a great deal of danger when a driver is drunk on the roads.

The police often employ unannounced checkpoints to catch drivers who are intoxicated and will take steps to get anyone who appears intoxicated off the roads.

Speeding? Excessive speeding can lead to harsh penalties

You may not have even been drinking or acting recklessly when you were pulled over, but if you were exceeding 30 mph over the limit or over 80 mph in total, you could face serious repercussions in Oahu. Hawaii has strict excessive speeding laws, and even first-time offenders face harsh penalties.

By law, a first-time offender faces fines of up to $1,000, may have their license suspended for 30 days and will have to go through mandatory driver's education. On top of that, they'll have to spend up to five days in prison or perform 36 hours of community service. Seem extreme? That's just what happens to those speeding excessively the first time. If you've had previous stops or have other charges in combination with the ticket, your penalties could be worse.

When could drivers face Hawaiian reckless driving charges?

Honolulu has some beautiful, scenic roads. It also has a lot of people who have to make it to work on time and plenty of tourists who aren't familiar with state driving laws. Both those who have lived in Hawaii for years and those who are only visiting could find themselves facing legal charges related to reckless driving after getting pulled over by law enforcement.

Understanding how Hawaii defines reckless driving and the potential penalties associated with such charges can help you avoid criminal charges, or at least develop a potentially effective defense strategy if you face reckless driving charges.

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