KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Concerned Maui residents are taking a shot at the county's liquor commission for passing a law that permits 24-hour alcohol sales.
Mayor Alan Arakawa signed off on the rule change last month, but protesters said it came as a surprise because the commission didn't offer enough public discussion.
Members of the Coalition to Repeal 24-Hour Alcohol Sales stood roadside in Kahului Tuesday waving signs that read "Akamai, Don't Drink and Drive" and "Less Drinking, More Thinking."
"Our law enforcement and our families and our neighborhoods in general will all feel the brunt of increased alcohol sales," said member Mahina Martin.
Before the new law went into effect on March 4, retailers stopped selling alcohol at 11 p.m. and hotels had a two-hour blackout period from 4 to 6 a.m.
Those restrictions are now gone.
Protesters say more availability means an increase in alcohol-related incidents, something police officers can't afford to take on.
"These are resources the community not only has to pay for, but have to rely on, so if we have alcohol-related incidents absorbing these resources, there are less to go around," said Eric Correa with the Maui chapter of State of Hawaii Police Officers Union.
The new law, according to protesters, also means more hours of temptation for the youth, homeless and anyone fighting addiction.
"Youth already have an easy ability to just go into stores and steal it or have older friends or strangers purchase it for them," said Ashlee Chapman, Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition Coordinator with Maui Youth and Family Services. "So if it's already that easy with regulation and limited hours, we can only imagine what it's going to be like now that they'll have access 24/7."
Maui's mayor says he's open to restarting the rule change process. In a statement Tuesday, he said he signed the law assuming it had been properly vetted with public feedback.
The coalition is calling on a public hearing and a repeal of the 24-hour alcohol retail sales law saying it poses a threat to the health and safety of the community.
Glenn Mukai, the liquor department director, declined an interview with Hawaii News Now.
Members of the coalition say they will be at the liquor commission meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Wailuku to offer public testimony.