Hawaii DUI Laws & Penalties

Drunk driving accidents are not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of Hawaii, but bad things happen there as well. That’s why the Aloha State takes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs seriously. It caused many accidents, injuries, and deaths all around the US, so it is being punished long before the horrible consequences occur.

You must have been told many times that it is best not to drink and drive. It makes you a danger to yourself, your passengers, and all the other traffic participants. If this advice has been fruitless and you took control of the wheel after a few drinks, it is about time to learn more about the Hawaii DUI laws and penalties.

What is a Hawaii DUI Offense?

A Hawaii DUI offense is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.  The state of Hawaii will charge you with DUI in two cases:
  • If your driving abilities are impaired.
  • If your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level is at or above the set thresholds.

No matter how much you have drunk, if a police officer finds that your driving abilities are impaired through a field sobriety test, observing your driving patterns, or another method, he or she may initiate a procedure against you.

The second possibility comes from the “per se” doctrine, according to which if your BAC levels are at or above a certain point, you are considered to be drunk. You may not be really drunk, but those amounts of alcohol in the blood are deemed dangerous for you and others, therefore they are not allowed.

These thresholds are:

  • Any traceable amount for drivers under the age of 21.
  • 0.04% for commercial drivers.
  • 0.08% for all other drivers.

The police officer may request you to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC. Most often that will be a breathalyzer test, and sometimes a blood or urine test.

You cannot refuse the police officer’s request to test. According to the implied consent law, every driver who operates a vehicle in Hawaii has already expressed their consent to do the test. If you don’t, you’ll still be charged with DUI.

Also, you may get such charges if you have an open container with alcohol in your vehicle while driving. It doesn’t matter whether you, as a driver, have impaired driving abilities or not. It doesn’t matter whether you drink from it or only the passengers either. As long as there is an open container filled with alcohol in the car, you are guilty of DUI.

If you get caught while driving under influence, you will be arrested, read your rights, and taken to jail. You can be bailed out.

What Are the Penalties for Hawaii DUI Offenses?

Hawaii DUI laws provide some of the mildest penalties for DUI offenses in all of the United States. The Aloha State does not have as much problem with DUI driving like some other states, therefore it does not punish them as severely as them.

As anywhere else in America, the penalties for DUI offenses in Hawaii depend on how many prior offenses you have on your record. There is a 5-year lookback period, which means that only the DUI offenses in the last 5 years count as subsequent. However, for the fourth DUI offense, the lookback period is 10 years.

If you have got in trouble with the DUI laws in Hawaii, here are the penalties that you should expect.

First Hawaii DUI Offense

Your first DUI offense is a misdemeanor. It brings the following consequences:

  • No jail time is required, but it is possible to remain incarcerated for 48 hours to 5 days upon the initial arrest.
  • A fine of $150-1000.
  • Driving license revocation for 1 year.
  • Possibility to get a conditional driving license after 30 days of the suspension with installed an ignition interlock device.
  • Mandatory enrollment in an alcohol or drug abuse program that lasts for 14 hours.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.
  • SR22 insurance policy for reinstatement of the license.

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Second Hawaii DUI Offense

The second DUI offense in a 5-year period is also a misdemeanor, and results in:

  • Jail time of 5 to 30 days or 240 hours in community service.
  • A fine of $500-1500.
  • Driving license revocation for 1 to 2 years.
  • Mandatory enrollment in a DUI program.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.
  • SR22 insurance policy for reinstation of the license.

Third Hawaii DUI Offense

The third Hawaii DUI offense in a 5-year lookback period is a misdemeanor as well the the previous two. It is punishable by:

  • Jail time of 10 to 30 days.
  • A fine of $500-2500.
  • Driving license revocation for 1 to 5 years.
  • Mandatory enrollment in an alcohol or drug abuse program.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Fourth Hawaii DUI Offense

If you commit a DUI offense in Hawaii while having 3 previous DUI offense from the previous 10 years, you have committed a felony. That brings more serious punishments, including:

  • Up to 5 years in jail.
  • Fines at the amount at court’s discretion.
  • Lifetime driving license suspension.
  • Up to 5 years of probation.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Hawaii DUI Penalties for Refusing Chemical Test

Refusing to submit to the chemical test inevitably leads to DUI charges and possibly to DUI conviction. Instead, it will result in enhanced driving license suspension, as follows:

  • 1 year suspension for the first offense.1 year suspension for the first offense.
  • 2 years suspension for the second offense.
  • 3 years suspension for the third offense.

Have in mind that if you refuse the test, your license will be confiscated immediately.

Additional Penalties for Drunk Driving Children of 15 Years of Age or Less

If the driver has been operating the vehicle under influence of alcohol or drugs while there was a child of the age of 15 or less, in addition to all the other penalties, the drivers will serve additional 48 hours in jail and pay additional $500 in fines.

Hawaii DUI Penalties for Underage Drivers

Drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to have any traceable amount of BAC in their organism. If they do, they face penalties as follows:

First Hawaii DUI Offense of Underage Drivers

The first offense leads to the following consequences:

  • Fines of $50-500.
  • Driving license suspension of 180 days without a possibility for a restricted license for drivers under the age of 18.
  • Driving license suspension of 180 days with a possibility for a restricted license after 30 days of suspension for drivers of the age of 18 or over for the next 150 days.
  • Mandatory attendance on an alcohol and drugs abuse program of at least 10 hours.
  • If the offender is younger than 18, the parents or guardian must also attend the program.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.

Second Hawaii DUI Offense of Underage Drivers

The second offense leads to:

  • Fines of $300-1000.
  • Driving license suspension of 1 year.
  • Up to 50 hours of community work.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.

Third Hawaii DUI Offense of Underage Drivers

 The third Hawaii DUI offense of an underage driver results in:
  • Fines of $300-1000.
  • Driving license suspension of 2 years.
  • Up to 100 hours of community work.
  • $25 surcharge for the neurotrauma special fund.
  • $25 surcharge for the trauma system special fund.

Hawaii DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers in Hawaii are under the threat to lose their jobs due to losing the commercial driving license if they get convicted of DUI. In addition to all the other penalties, they face losing their CDL for 1 year. If they drive hazardous materials, the suspension lasts for 3 years.

Their second DUI offense means a permanent revocation of the CDL. It is important to note that this penalty applies for driving under influence any type of vehicle. It is not necessary to be on duty to lose the CDL.

How to Reinstate Your Hawaii Driving License

You can reinstate your Hawaii driving license according to the directions stated in the suspension notice. In most cases, that will mean meeting the set requirements, such as:

  • Paying your fines and serving the sentences.
  • Serving the driving license suspension.
  • Reapplying for driving license.
  • Retaking the driver knowledge and skills tests.
  • Completing a driver improvement course, if necessary.
  • Complete the alcohol and drugs treatment programs, if necessary.
  • Presenting evidence of SR22 insurance policy
  • Pay the reinstatement fees.

You can start retaking the driving knowledge and skills tests in the last 30 days before the expiry of the suspension.

Additional Hawaii resources you may need: