Habitual drunken driver gets maximum prison term - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Habitual drunken driver gets maximum prison term

Patrick Rowland Patrick Rowland
Circuit judge Michael Wilson Circuit judge Michael Wilson
Paul Mow Paul Mow

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - An Oahu man, already convicted 12 times for driving under the influence, begged for leniency in his latest DUI case Wednesday.

But the judge showed no mercy, saying the habitual drunken driver is lucky he hasn't killed anyone.

While his behavior behind the wheel hasn't led to someone's death, that doesn't mean Patrick Rowland hasn't been in an alcohol-related crash.

In June 2008, his pick-up slammed into a parked truck and a wall in Hauula. A man who was sitting in the parked truck managed to escape serious injury.

"He felt a large impact to his truck followed by it shaking violently," Paul Mow, deputy prosecutor, said. "He could have been killed."

Prosecutors say Rowland's blood-alcohol level wasn't tested until nearly two hours later. They believe, at the time of the crash, it was as high as .20, well above the legal limit of .08.

"For the last 30 years, this man has been on the road drinking and driving, and placing the public at risk," Mow said.

The 58-year-old has 12 prior DUI convictions dating back to 1978. He's also been convicted 16 times of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

"I apologize to the courts and the community for drinking and driving my past years," the convicted driver said. "And I realize I have a drinking problem."

Rowland asks for probation so he can undergo alcohol abuse treatment.

"He is a person who has been reflecting about this and reflecting about his life," Kenji Akamu, deputy public defender, said. "He is a good man."

But the judge gives him the maximum punishment for felony habitual DUI -- five years in prison.

"The most dangerous thing that most adults do is to drive a car," Michael Wilson, Circuit judge, said. "And the degree of danger that you've caused with your prior history has been very significant."

Prosecutors say Hawaii's current DUI laws fail to serve as a proper deterrent. They say the Legislature needs to create stiffer punishments for offenders.

"It's ridiculous for the law to be written in such a way that a guy with 12 DUIs gets five years," Mow said. "He certainly deserves more than that."

Because of his driving record, prosecutors say Rowland's license was revoked for life on two separate occasions.

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