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.
Hawaii has absolute speed limits that officers do enforce
A big source of confusion for people who move to Hawaii or visit from other states is that Hawaiian law enforcement doesn't tend to take a flexible view of speed limits.
In many other states, it is common for officers to choose not to enforce minor infractions, such as driving fewer than 10 miles over the posted speed limit. In Hawaii, you can absolutely find yourself facing a speeding ticket for going just one mile over the posted limit.
Hawaii has a broad definition of reckless driving
Like many states, Hawaii does not explicitly define only a few circumstances that constitute reckless driving. Instead, the state has a broad statute that law enforcement and judges can then interpret based on the circumstances of the arrest or citation. Under Hawaiian law, reckless driving involves anyone operating a vehicle in a manner that disregards the safety of other people or property.
In other words, reckless driving could mean going over the speed limit. It could mean consistently failing to come to a full stop at intersections, or it could mean drag racing. Many different circumstances could constitute reckless driving under Hawaii statutes.
In fact, you won't even need to break driving laws or exceed the speed limit to face reckless driving charges. Sometimes, failing to properly adjust your driving behaviors for heavy rain, or other weather or road conditions could be grounds for reckless driving charges. You may not feel that your actions put anyone else in danger, but if the officer who stopped you doesn't feel the same way, a reckless driving charge could be in your future.
What are the consequences for reckless driving?
Some people don't seem to understand that reckless driving is quite different from a simple speeding ticket. It is not just a traffic citation. It is a criminal offense. There is the potential for you to go to jail for up to 30 days and pay $1,000 in fines even if it is your first alleged reckless driving incident.
The good news is that it is possible to defend yourself against allegations of reckless driving. Discussing your situation with a Honolulu-based defense attorney is a good first step to exploring your options.