Rep. Karamatsu Accepts Responsibility For DUI Crash

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- State Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu went before an Oahu judge Friday, and took responsibility for a drunken driving crash two months ago.

A state legislator, who helped pass tougher DUI laws, arrives at District Court to admit to drunken driving.

"I wanted to take full responsibility for my actions," Jon Riki Karamatsu, convicted drunken driver, said.

Standing before a judge, Karamatsu changes his plea from not guilty to no contest. Prosecutors say his blood alcohol level was .171, more than two times the legal limit, when he slammed his car into a concrete barrier on Moanalua Freeway near Ahua Street October 16th.

"During that time, he had trouble maintaining balance, was swaying in a circular motion, and had slurred speech," Jennifer Sugita, deputy prosecutor, said. "There was also a strong odor of alcohol from the mouth and facial area."

No one was injured in the crash.

"I learned from my mistake. I feel deeply sorry," Karamatsu told the court. "And I'm very fortunate that no one got hurt."

This day happens to be Karamatsu's 33rd birthday. His gift? He avoids jail time.

"We asked for jail. We didn't get it," Sugita said. "At least we got 72 hours of community service work and a $750 fine."

The first-time offender must also pay the standard court fees, and go through 14 hours of substance abuse rehab.

"Do you have an alcohol problem? Are you addressing that?" this reporter asked the Waipahu-Waikele representative.

"No, I don't have an alcohol problem," he replied. "But I do admit that that night, I, I made a mistake."

Karamatsu's driver's license has been revoked for six months.