Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Stricter DUI Rules

April 7, 2017

Hawaii drivers arrested on a repeat DUI offense would have to agree to stop drinking alcohol for at least 90 days and wear an ankle bracelet if they want to be released from jail on bail under a bill being considered in the Legislature.

The bill also requires DUI offenders to pay $360 a month for the monitoring device, which checks the skin for alcohol excretions every 30 minutes, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The ankle bracelets are made by Denver-based company SCRAM Systems.

The Honolulu prosecutor has voiced support for the proposal, while Hawaii’s Office of the Public Defender argues it is unfair to low-income residents who would potentially face longer jail times than those who are well off.

“If you got the money, you are only going to spend a few minutes in jail, but if you don’t you could spend a lot longer. That is our objection,” said Tim Ho, chief deputy public defender. “It carves out two categories of defendants: those that have money and those that don’t.”

The measure has passed the full House and three Senate committees and is close to gaining final passage in the Legislature.

Another critic of the legislation is Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii, which has also cited cost as an issue. If mandated, the alcohol-monitoring devices could replace ignition interlock devices, which require repeat offenders to do a blow test for their vehicle to start.

The ignition interlock devices cost about $3 a day, compared to the $12 a day for ankle bracelets.

Arkie Koehl of MADD Hawaii said it is unlikely drivers would want to pay for the ignition devices if they are required to wear and pay for ankle bracelets, which can’t stop a person from driving if they are drunk.

The drunken driving bill has “been pushed through committee after committee. Each time, we have been getting more and more upset about it,” Koehl said. “Each time, there has never been a proper discussion about how it would work with the ignition interlock.”

In 2015, drunken driving contributed to 51 traffic fatalities in Hawaii.

Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s office said in testimony supporting the bill that it would save lives and “generally assist in making our community a safer place to live and work.”

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