Traffic Tickets in Hawaii
There are criminal and civil traffic cases in Hawaii.
Certain moving violations resulting in a ticket carry the weight of a misdemeanor or felony. These are the serious contraventions that not only affect your driving record but can also land you behind bars.
In a good number of these circumstances, you will be escorted to jail at the time of the charge and your license will be automatically suspended. Lives are changed and wallets are drained by these crimes, and it can take years to have your driving privileges restored.
If you are left to your own recognizance after the traffic stop, you will still need to report to a District Court (see locations below) at some point. The date, time, and address will be noted on the ticket that was issued.
Obviously, it is imperative that you make the date. The repercussions for not appearing are a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
Examples of Criminal Infractions
- Driving without a license
- Evading a police officer
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Street racing
- Reckless driving
- A second offense of driving without insurance
Besides the fact that those charged with a DWI must enroll in the state's driver education program, the penalties for traffic crimes are wide ranging. Fines can exceed thousands of dollars, you can lose your license for a year or more, or worse, you can have your license revoked altogether. You can also be sentenced to probation or community service, or even be shipped off to prison.
Civil infractions occur when you break a local ordinance or state statute regarding traffic and the rules of the road. The majority of citations issued in the state are of this variety.
You can even break this down further into two forms of civil infraction: moving vs. nonmoving. Nonmoving violations are usually parking tickets; if you get one of those, you'll usually have to send in the fine using the handy self-addressed envelope you found under your windshield wiper with the ticket.
Civil infractions of the moving-violation type are not the brand of offense that is stamped on a criminal record. They will, however, appear on your driving record, which is known as a "traffic abstract" in Hawaii.
The abstract is public record and available for all to see, including insurance companies and prospective employers. Thus, keeping your driving history relatively clear of violations has its benefits. And of course, you get cheaper insurance rates.
Examples of Civil Infractions
- Broken tail light
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Illegal turns
- Parking in a loading zone
- Expired parking meter
Penalties for Civil Infractions
Monetary fines: Unless you figure out a way to convince a judge otherwise (begging will not work), you will be required to pay a fine for the citation you received. Paying the fine is essentially pleading guilty to the action that got you the ticket in the first place. In 99.9% of the cases, you will never even see a judge―or a courtroom, for that matter. Fines and any surcharges are usually paid by mail or over the Internet.
The "stopper:" This applies only to parking tickets. If you don't pay a parking ticket, the outcome could be detrimental to your vehicle registration. Even forgetting to pay one minor parking violation could result in a registration "stopper" being placed on your vehicle. This preventive tactic tries to curb nonpayment of fines by essentially freezing the registration on your vehicle.
When it comes time to renew, you will be forced to pay the parking fine before receiving the new tags. The "stopper" can also hinder your ability to sell the vehicle, as a prospective buyer can check to see if the vehicle is in default on any payments before making an offer. The new owner will not be able to register the vehicle until all back fines are cleared.
Besides the "stopper" being tagged to your registration, you will also endure nagging calls and letters from a collection company.
Driving school: In some situations, especially if you were cited for dangerous driving such as speeding, you may be required to enter a driver education program especially for traffic violators. These courses are offered through the District Courts; each island has a division. Attending a class does not necessarily mean your fine will be reduced, but the curriculum will definitely help you become a better driver.
Community service: Hitting the upper echelons of infraction severity can ultimately land you by the roadside on trash pickup duty. Judges can get rather creative with this judgment, but you can bet that whatever the sentence, it will involve traffic safety issues or cleaning up the roadways. This is a popular sentencing alternative (in addition to fines) for habitual offenders.Other Topics in This Section