Should a city deputy prosecutor keep his job after second DUI arrest?

Former state lawmaker, city deputy prosecutor, arrested again for DUI
Published: Apr. 4, 2015 at 8:58 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2015 at 9:42 PM HST
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Karamatsu's 2015 mug shot
Karamatsu's 2015 mug shot

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Still no word on the status of a Honolulu deputy prosecutor who got a second DUI arrest this past weekend.

Jon Riki Karamatsu was arrested early Saturday morning near the intersection of Ala Moana Boulevard and Hobron Lane.

Officers booked the 40-year-old for DUI and refusing to submit to testing.

"It certainly sends the wrong message," says Arkie Koehl, a spokesman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, "It's a legal ploy and if you're a clever lawyer that might be a thing to do, but it definitely sends a bad message if you're a public official."

"It does make it harder for the prosecutor's office or the Attorney General's Office to prosecute him because they don't have a breathalyzer result," says defense attorney Victor Bakke, who has more than 20 years in the business and has worked on hundreds of DUI cases, "However, it does weigh against him as far as his driving license privileges are concerned. Plus he will be charged with a criminal offense of refusal to submit to a test which does carry criminal penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a criminal record," says Bakke.

In 2007, while Karamatsu was Vice Speaker of the state House, he was convicted after crashing his car into a concrete median.  He pleaded no contest in that case and had his driver's license revoked for six months. The former state lawmaker also helped pass tougher DUI laws.

"I've learned from my mistake, I'm deeply sorry and I'm very fortunate that no one got hurt,” said Karamatsu in 2007.

“Now he's going to have to kinda swallow those words and try to explain why he was in this situation again after going through it once," Bakke said.

And Karamatsu has had other issues recently.  Hawaii News Now reported on his involvement with a rave at Kakaako Park last year.  An event that about 10-thousand people attended. "While he's working at the prosecutors office, he decided to go out and promote raves, which in case you are not aware of, is something that most law enforcement people aren't happy about," says former Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle.

Carlisle doesn't think Karamatsu should still have a job.

"These is no excuse for this guy being hired by the prosecutor's office in the first place, number two, being maintained in the prosecutor's office, and three, any other alternative than him being immediately fired, not allowed to resign, but fired," says Carlisle.

We're told that Karamatsu called his boss, Keith Kaneshiro, after his arrest on Saturday.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said Kaneshiro is disappointed. He also said the office is waiting for all the facts before taking any action and refused to tell us Karamatsu's current status.

The state Attorney General's office will likely handle the case.

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