Despite DUI acquittal, state lawmaker could still face disciplinary action
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite her acquittal on drunk driving charges, state Rep. Sharon Har could still face disciplinary actions from her fellow lawmakers.
Complaints filed by more than a dozen of the Makakilo lawmaker’s constituents say Har violated the House’s code of conduct when she made public statements about her arrest that conflicted with police body camera video of the incident.
“The public is tired, so tired of transgressions and misdemeanors that seem to be ignored, pushed under the carpet,” said Makakilo resident Carolyn Golojuch.
Two days after she was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and driving the wrong way on Beretania Street, Har told the public and her fellow lawmakers that she had been taking prescription cough medicine and had a beer after a late evening at work.
“It’s obvious that that decision coupled with my medication along with my long work hours is something I will regret for the rest of my life,” Har said, in a Feb. 24, 2021 apology on the House floor.
But when she was arrested, she told officers she hadn’t taken any medication.
Officer: “Are you sick, injured or taking any medication?”
Har: “I promise I’m OK.”
The complaint also alleges that Har tried to use her position to benefit herself when she asked an officer if he “knew who she is.”
Har was acquitted by District Judge Steven Hartley in January. The judge said prosecutors didn’t present sufficient evidence, despite having police body camera video of Har’s arrest.
“You cannot regain the trust of the community when you turn around and allow a technicality to absolve Rep. Har from her responsibility,” said Golojuch.
But Har’s lawyer says the case was dismissed because the arresting officers’ testimony ― that Har smelled of alcohol ― was not credible.
Har had refused to take a field sobriety test.
“I think it’s absolutely wrong ― I don’t want to use the word disgrace ― to keep pursuing Rep. Har after this acquittal,” said Har’s lawyer Howard Luke.
The House committee will make it’s recommendations next week.
If the complaint is upheld, the committee can recommend censure, stripping Har of her committee assignments or even removing her from the House.
Censure and the loss of committee assignments required a majority vote of the House. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote.
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