Whether you live in Hawaii year ‘round or are visiting as a tourist, if you get behind the wheel to drive on one of the islands, you must adhere to all state traffic laws. If you’re visiting, it’s up to you to research the laws, so that you’re aware of what’s expected of you as a driver in this state. It’s also important to be aware of DUI laws.
There are several key factors to be aware of regarding traffic stops, drunk driving laws and penalties you may incur under conviction if police arrest you for suspected drunk driving and things don’t go your way in court.
In Hawaii, a DUI is an OVUII
In most states throughout the country, the initials “DUI” or “DWI” refer to crimes involving driver impairment caused by drugs or alcohol. In this state, however, the legal phrase used to refer to such crimes is “OVUII,” which stands for: operating a vehicle under influence of an intoxicant. An “intoxicant” could be drugs or alcohol.
Implied consent laws apply to out-of-state drivers, too
If you don’t live in Hawaii but are just visiting on vacation, it’s important to understand that the state’s implied consent laws still apply to you as an out-of-state driver. By driving in this state, you are subject to all laws pertaining to those who operate motor vehicles. Implied consent means that you automatically agree to take a blood, urine or Breathalyzer test if a Hawaii police officer arrests you on suspicion of OVUII.
Refusing to take a blood, urine or breath test after police take you into custody for suspected drunk or impaired driving places you at risk for automatic license suspension.
BAC of .08 or higher is a per se violation
The term “per se violation” means that the issue in question is “in and of itself” a violation of Hawaii law. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is .08 or higher, prosecutors do not need to present any additional evidence for the court to convict you of OVUII. If you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time, .04 is the legal BAC limit.
The state sometimes issues a conditional license
In certain circumstances, you can appeal an administrative ruling that has resulted in suspension of your driver’s license. In such cases, you might be able to secure a conditional license that enables you to lawfully operate a motor vehicle for two weeks, during which time you may file your appeal.
If you win your appeal, your license would be restored; however, even if you lose, you may qualify for an extended conditional license after a 30-day period of suspension. This condition is helpful to people who need to drive in order to get to work, school or court-ordered classes of some type, such as substance abuse awareness classes.
An OVUII arrest can have immediate and far-reaching implications
Being arrested for suspected driving impairment can mess up your life in many ways, beginning with having to call home to tell your family that you’re in a county jail. Facing criminal charges means you’ll have numerous legal appointments to attend, which can cause complications with your employer, if you have to keep calling off work.
Facing drunk driving charges can also damage your personal and professional reputation. If you work in a capacity that requires a license, such as a medical professional, teacher or therapist, etc., your license may be at risk, especially if the court hands down a conviction. The good news, however, is that you do not have to navigate the criminal justice system on your own; most defendants seek experienced legal support as soon as possible after their arrest.