Traffic Ticket FAQ in Hawaii
What do I do if I get a traffic ticket in HI?
Generally, you have a few options. You can:
- Plead guilty and pay the fine. For many, this means paying the ticket online and putting the situation behind them.
- Plead not guilty and make your case in court. Drivers who choose this option often hire traffic ticket attorneys to help them.
- Admit guilt, but request a hearing to explain your actions to the judge. Sometimes, drivers have good―or what they believe are good―reasons for committing the violations, and judges might consider their reasons.
Of course, it all depends on whether your ticket is for a traffic “infraction" or a traffic “crime," too.
Check your answer form or envelope (your officer should have provided this with the citation) to see each option.
How can I get a traffic ticket dismissed?
- Contest the ticket in court and win.
- Admit guilt, but explain your actions to the judge. He may drop the charges, or offer you a lesser offense with lesser penalties.
Before you choose, consider the nature of your offense and consider seeking legal advice.
What if I have a Hawaii CDL and get a traffic ticket?
Perhaps before you do anything else, notify your employer; you have 30 days from the date you are convicted of a citation to let your employer know. If you received the citation in another jurisdiction, notify your local driver licensing agency, too.
Next, determine whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty, or opt for a chance to explain yourself in court―similar to what any other driver would do.
Finally understand that, depending on the violation, you might face much more severe penalties than would a holder of a regular driver's license. For more on these penalties, refer to Section One of the Hawaii Commercial Driver License Manual.
What does the Zero Tolerance Law for drivers younger than 21 years old mean?
It means no driver younger than 21 years old can drive with a BAC of 0.02%.
What are the penalties for getting a traffic ticket while driving with a provisional license?
Generally, drivers with provisional licenses can choose from the same plea options, but if they're found guilty of any traffic violation, they face license revocation for:
- 3 months for the 1st offense.
- 6 month for the 2nd offense.
These penalties are in addition to any penalties handed down for violating the terms of a provisional license.
Learn more about the penalties for younger drivers in our Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties section.
Will taking a motorcycle safety course help me with a traffic ticket I got while riding?
No. Hawaii doesn't offer a ticket dismissal or reduction option via any kind of traffic school or defensive driving course.
Can I take a defensive driving course to satisfy a traffic ticket?
No. Judges sometimes order drivers to take a particular traffic school or defensive driving course because of the nature of the violation, but these courses are never used for ticket dismissal.
I heard the state doesn't use driving record points anymore. Is this true?
Yes. Instead of putting points on a driving record, the state puts the violation on the driving abstract (or driving record).
Why is it a good idea to order a driving record?
Several entities have access to your driving record, or driving abstract. Potential employers can look at is, as well as your current and future auto insurance providers.
Obtaining a copy of your driving abstract allows you to make sure it only includes the appropriate violations, i.e. that nothing's on there that shouldn't be on there.
Learn more about obtaining your HI driving abstract.
What is the cost of my traffic ticket?
Your traffic ticket fine depends on your violation. Check your ticket for the exact cost.
Are traffic ticket fines the same throughout the state?
Yes. They vary by violation, but because the Hawaii legislation sets the costs, they are the same throughout the state. This means a specific speeding ticket in one part of the state costs the same for the same speeding ticket in another part of the state. For more on this, check our page covering Hawaii traffic ticket fines and penalties.
How can I find a lost traffic ticket?
For many drivers, the quickest way to find a lost traffic ticket (or at least retrieve the information from it) is to contact their districts’ TVB.
For other options, such as getting up with the court handling your ticket, check our Lost HI Traffic Ticket section.
When is it a good idea to hire a traffic ticket attorney?
As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to hire a traffic ticket lawyer whenever you're uncomfortable navigating any of the legal processes yourself.
For example, you might consider legal assistance if:
- You want to contest your ticket and fight it in court.
- You want to admit guilt, but you want the option to explain your actions to the judge.
- You'd like to get a plea bargain with lesser penalties.
Keep in mind that Hawaii hands out citations for traffic “infractions" and traffic “crimes." Generally, infractions include less severe violations like speeding or failing to use a turn signal; crimes involve violations such as DWI, street racing, and reckless driving. While it's beneficial to have a lawyer help you through the court processes of a traffic infraction, it's almost necessary to have one help you navigate the legal system when a traffic crime is involved.