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  • DUI & DWI in Hawaii

    One choice conjured from an inebriated brain can put you behind the wheel and on the road when odds are you should be in a taxi. Maybe you managed to make it home without any episodes before.

    The next thing you know, you've been waved over to the side of the road by law enforcement. Here begins the topsy-turvy roller coaster ride known as a DUI―driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The least of the experience is humiliation.

    That would be enough in most cases, but some don't learn that fast, so the laws force a big blotch on a driver's record (both criminal and driving)―and put the hurt on their bank account. The consequence of the decision to drive drunk can last for years and act as a black cloud always hanging over your future. And that is if you were not involved in an accident where someone was injured or, worse, killed.

    But right now, as you stand off to the side of the road blinking into the cop's headlights, you'd just better hope that you test under the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit―which in the state of Hawaii is 0.08%―that will get you arrested for DUI. Even if you test below that level, you could be considered to be under the influence and arrested.

    You can opt to forgo the roadside breath test, but that opens up an entirely other realm of punishments under the legal framework. In fact, just as if you were being arrested for DUI, if you refuse a BAC test you will end up turning over your license to the police officer at the scene and read your Miranda rights.

    The Arrest

    • If you fail the roadside sobriety test, which could entail anything from standing on one leg while answering a barrage of questions to touching your nose and walking a straight line, you will be read your rights.
    • You will be taken to jail.
    • A tow truck will take your car and impound it.
    • A Breathalyzer test will be offered under the implied consent laws, and if you refuse it, you can say good-bye to your license at that point; it will be confiscated. You may never see it again, as it will be suspended.
    • You will get to sober up in a jail cell. While you are sitting behind bars, a whole series of events could be set into motion that will affect your employment, your financial stability, and your family.

    Gambling with the BAC

    Simply put, blood alcohol concentration is how much alcohol is pulsing through your blood and giving you the feel-good high of intoxication. While there are numerous factors affecting each individual's BAC, and it will vary from person to person even after the same number of drinks. So rather than gambling on whether your BAC will get you arrested, it's safest not to drink at all before driving.

    DUI Penalties

    1st Offense

    • Fine: Between $150 and $1,000.
    • Defendant is required to enroll in a 14-hour alcohol or drug abuse program.
    • Jail time: Generally, a 1st offense will not carry any jail time past the initial arrest, but it is possible to remain incarcerated for up to 5 days.
    • License revocation: 1 year.
      • The court will consider limited driving privileges for those who are employed and have no other means of transportation.
    • Other sentencing options include up to 72 hours of community service.

    2nd Offense

    Within 5 years of a prior conviction:

    • Fine: Between $500 and $1,500.
    • Jail time: Up to 30 days in jail or 240 hours of community service.
    • License revocation: up to 2 years.

    3rd Offense

    Within 5 years of the two prior convictions:

    • Fine: Between $500 and $2,500.
    • Jail time: 10 to 30 days.
    • License revocation: License will be revoked for 2 years.

    We hope you never need one, but a DUI attorney can help you understand these penalties as well as what you can expect in court.

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