High rate of fatal crashes on Oahu involving impaired drivers prompts new campaign

Nearly 2,000 DUI arrests have been made this year on Oahu.
Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 8:34 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - So far, nearly 2,000 DUI arrests have been made this year on Oahu.

Police expect that number to rise during the holiday season, and that is why the Honolulu Police Department is taking a unique approach to raise awareness.

Some HPD traffic officers tell HNN they are seeing more repeat offenders in DUI cases, prompting concerns that the messaging about the dangers that come with drinking and driving, are not getting through to some.

“They are still out there from a firsthand perspective. I mean, we can look at statistics all day and judge whether or not it’s up and down, but they are still out there, and it’s plentiful,” said Sgt. Koa Saul with HPD.

At HPD’s training academy in Waipahu on Saturday, volunteers drank for nearly 2 hours under the supervision of HPD officers, a unique demonstration to show how alcohol can impair people planning to get behind the wheel.

The goal was not to drink to excess but to simulate a social drinking environment where participants casually drank over several hours.

After the bar closed, the volunteers were tested with three standard tests used nationwide by officers to test for impairment.

It showed that some volunteers who were just at the legal limit on the blood alcohol content level content were still poor enough on the tests to warrant an arrest.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you are OK to drive,” said Sgt. Thomas Billins with the Honolulu Police Department. “They felt they performed well on the test. What they don’t realize is officers are trained to look for certain clues on the test to indicate you are impaired.”

HPD says another thing they hear is that the designated driver is sometimes the person who “drank the least” in the group.

This demonstration shows that even when you think you are good at driving, it doesn’t mean you are.