Hawaii Passes New Law to Crack Down on Drunk Drivers

Published: Jul. 2, 2007 at 2:36 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 2, 2007 at 11:33 AM HST
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Scott Ishikawa
Scott Ishikawa
Jonathan Schwalbenitz
Jonathan Schwalbenitz

By: Mari-Ela David

(KHNL) - Hawaii is accelerating its crack down on drunk drivers. The legal blood alcohol limit is still .08%, but those who drink and drive their way to a .15% blood alcohol level or higher will face tougher penalties.

Driver's license - gone. Vehicle registration - gone. Both can be revoked for six months to a year.

"Folks who are driving at .15, they shouldn't even be behind the wheel at that point, they're basically endangering everyone," says Scott Ishikawa, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation.

"I'm in favor of the new law. As a bartender and as somebody who lives on the islands. When you get to that limit, when you get to that point, you've really had enough," says Jonathan Schwalbenitz, a bartender at Murphy's Bar and Grill in Honolulu.

The Department of Transportation says, if convicted, DUI offenders must also spend at least 14 hours in rehab. Plus, they must either spend two to five days in jail, pay up to $1000 in fines, and/or do 3 days of community service.

"Harsher penalties, I think that's a good idea. when I was in Germany, if you had one drunk driving offense, you lost your license for a year. If you had a second one, you never drove again," says Jim Peters, a Honolulu resident.

Some say the state should go beyond added penalties and treat the root cause of alcohol-related crashes.

"Actually trying to solve it from as a bigger problem rather than just putting a band-aid on it," says Joshua King of Honolulu.

But many say the new law makes makes it clear that Hawaii will not tolerate anymore alcohol-related deaths on its roads.

The new law applies to first offenders.

Punishment dramatically increases for repeat offenders.