It is a crime in the state of Hawaii to operate a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. You can be charged with a DWI, also called an OVUII, if your blood alcohol content is greater than .08 percent or if an officer determines that you are influenced by alcohol in an amount sufficient to impair normal mental faculties. For commercial vehicle drivers, the legal limit is .04 percent, and for drivers younger than the age of 21, it is .02 percent.
You can also be charged with a DWI in Hawaii if you are under the influence of any amount of a drug or substance that impairs your ability to drive. It is at an officer’s discretion to determine if you appear to be impaired. While Hawaii does allow marijuana use for some medical conditions, having a legal status as a medical patient does not grant any leeway in DWI thresholds or penalties. If any amount of marijuana or metabolite is found in your blood, it can be grounds for a DWI charge.
Hawaii’s implied consent law states that anyone operating a vehicle on the state’s roads or waterways automatically gives consent to a breath, blood or urine test for alcohol and drugs at a police officer’s discretion. The first refusal of such a test results in an automatic suspension of the driver’s license for a period of one year. This is separate from any DWI charge that may or may not occurs. Subsequent refusals add a potential two to five years to the suspension. Unlike many other states, refusal of a test in Hawaii cannot be entered into court later as an admission of guilt.
A fourth DWI in Hawaii rises to the level of a class C felony charge. However, there is a look-back period of five years. Only offenses committed in the previous five years are counted toward the current total of DWIs.
A DWI also becomes a felony charge automatically if any other person is injured in an alcohol-related incident. If another person is killed in the course of a DWI, the charge can rise to manslaughter or vehicular homicide.
Recent Changes to Hawaii DWI Law
As of January 2011, anyone arrested for a DWI is required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device for a specified period at their own expense. The period is determined by the circumstances of the case and is at the judge’s discretion. Driver’s licenses will also be suspended during this period and replaced with a temporary permit that indicates that an ignition interlock device must be in place on any vehicle that the driver is operating. Drivers who have refused to be tested will have their licenses suspended for one year but may obtain one of these restricted permits to drive with during that period.
Legislation is currently being considered by the state to lower the per se BAC limit for drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Hawaii?
The legal alcohol limit in Hawaii is .08 percent for passenger vehicle drivers age 21 and over. Commercial vehicle operators must adhere to a stricter limit of .04 percent, and individuals not of legal drinking age can be cited for alcohol-related driving offenses if any trace of alcohol shows up in a breath or blood test.
Hawaii punishes people severely for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII), an offense equivalent to DUI and DWI designations in other states. Some of the punishments that a person could face for a first conviction include:
- Required participation in a 14-hour substance abuse rehabilitation program
- Revocation of a driver’s license for one year
- Mandatory compliance with ignition interlock law
- Community service of 72 hours
- Between two and five days in jail
- A fine of between $150 and $1,000 (plus surcharges)
These penalties may result from having a blood alcohol concentration between .08 and .15 percent; offenses involving a higher BAC typically result in aggravated charges that can yield enhanced penalties. Repeat offenses committed within a five-year span also typically result in stronger punishment.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Hawaii
Hawaii requires people convicted of a DWI offense to install an ignition interlock device (IID). This piece of equipment is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle and prevents an engine from turning over if a person submits a failing breath sample.
Conditions of an IID include:
- The expense of installing a device is the responsibility the convicted individual.
- The device must be monitored regularly by a state-authorized vendor.
- Any record of failed tests can be used to justify additional penalties.
An ignition interlock device comes with potential negatives, but most OVUII offenders opt for one given the benefit of having a license reinstated.
Hawaii DWI Penalties
In the state of Hawaii, as in all 50 states, being found operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, of over .08 percent, may result in a DUI conviction and associated penalties. A person who is found to have a BAC of .15 percent or higher may face aggravated penalties. Penalties may be also be enhanced if a person is found to be operating a vehicle under the influence with a passenger who is younger than the age of 15. In Hawaii, any minor found operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02 percent or higher is also subject to DUI laws with similar penalties, and commercial drivers in Hawaii are barred from operating a vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent or higher. In some cases, Hawaii DUI penalties may include the installation of an ignition interlock device or IID. Since 2011, the cost of installation and leasing fee of the device must be paid for the person facing conviction. If a person’s license has been suspended, they may be eligible to receive a temporary permit that allows them to operate a vehicle if an IID is installed.
In Hawaii, the implied consent law mandates that, if you are driving a vehicle, you have given your consent to a chemical analysis if an officer of the law has reasonable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This could be a blood, breath or urine analysis, at the discretion of the officer. Refusal to submit to this analysis carries its own penalties, and the penalties must be notified of the penalties for refusal by the officer requesting the test. A first offense is punishable by a mandatory one-year suspension of the offender’s license, while second and third convictions within a five-year period will result in a two-year suspension.
1st DUI Offense
In Hawaii, penalties for a first DUI offense include a mandatory substance abuse program. Mandatory license suspension for a first offense is one year, with possible limited driving privileges to allow the defendant to get to and from work, at the discretion of the court. If a person is found to have been highly intoxicated, an additional six months may be added to the suspension. Jail time may also be sentenced at a judge’s discretion. A 72-hour sentence of a mandatory community service may also be administered, and fines for a conviction may range from $150 to $1000.
2nd DUI Offense
A second DUI offense may result in a license suspension period that may range from 18 months to two years, and may also be punishable by fines between $500 and $1,500. If a child under the age of 15 was in the vehicle, an additional $500 fine may be sentenced. Penalties may also include jail time between five to 30 days or 240 hours of community service.
Three or more DUI conviction within a five-year period may result in a felony conviction. Sentencing for a third offense includes mandatory jail time of no less than 10 days and no more than 30, as well as a license suspension lasting two years. Potential fines for a third offense are between $500 and $2,500.