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Kamuela Lawyers Tell You All about DUI-Drug Charges in Hawaii

In a few states, DUI-drug charges are difficult to prove in court unless the defendant used an illegal drug, like marijuana, cocaine, or a painkiller without a prescription.

However, most states have very broad laws. Driving under the influence of almost anything in your medicine cabinet, and many of the items in your pantry could lead to DUI charges. In 2016, a California man was arrested for driving under the influence of caffeine. Prosecutor later dismissed that case. However, if they had moved forward, the charges probably would have held up in court. That incident underscores the broad nature of California’s DUI-drug law.

Hawaii’s law is very similar. It is illegal to drive “under the influence of any drug that impairs the person’s ability to operate the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner.” That language is slightly different from DUI-alcohol prohibition. Nevertheless, the severe direct and indirect consequences are largely the same, as outlined below.

Frequently, Kamuela DUI lawyers can successfully resolve DUI-drug cases, largely because they are almost entirely built on circumstantial evidence.

Direct and Indirect Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Kamuela

Technically, DUI in Hawaii is Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant. OVUII more accurately sums up the elements of the offense. Legally, there is a difference between “driving” and “operating” a vehicle. Additionally, many substances, and not just alcohol, cause impairment. However, OVUII is much more of a mouthful, even for experienced Kamuela DUI lawyers.

DUI, OVUII, or whatever you call it has some very harsh direct consequences in Hawaii County. The penalties for a first-time offense usually include:

  • Incarceration: Almost all first-time offenders receive probation. Nevertheless, probation includes a mandatory jail sentence of up to five days. Usually, defendants have enough time served to satisfy this requirement
  • Fine: The maximum fine is $1,000. Some courts reduce the fine to a few hundred dollars and require defendants to pay the entire fine upfront. Others levy the entire $1,000 and allow defendants to make payment plans. Still, other courts combine various elements of these two schemes.
  • Community Service: Seventy-two hours is basically two full working weeks of community service. That’s a lot of time, especially if defendants must miss work to fulfill this requirement.

Drivers’ License Revocation: The maximum revocation period is one year for a first-time offense. Normally, defendants who install Ignition Interlock Devices in their cars can still drive normally. IIDs are basically portable Breathalyzers attached to the vehicle’s ignition.

Because of these harsh requirements, a few weeks in jail might be preferable to probation. That’s especially true if alternative sentencing arrangements, like weekends, are available. A Kamuela DUI lawyer can lay out all the pros and cons.

There are also some significant indirect consequences, such as higher auto insurance rates. To most insurance companies, all DUIs are the same. The substances and circumstances are irrelevant. A DUI conviction usually means that rates double or triple. These higher rates generally remain in effect for three years.

On a related note, DUI convictions also create employment problems. Many commercial insurance providers will not cover drivers with DUIs on their records. Additionally, many employers believe these people make poor decisions and would, therefore, be poor employees.

Direct Consequences of Highly Intoxicated DUI

Hawaiian law provides for additional consequences for those who drive with a blood alcohol that far exceeds the legal limit. These highly intoxicated cases require the state to prove one of the following:

  • .15 grams or more of alcohol per 110 milliliters of blood
  • .15 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath

If convicted, defendants face a minimum of 48 hours in jail and revocation of their licenses for six- to 18 months. Repeat offenders must serve at least ten days in jail and lose their driving privileges for 12 to 36 months.

Kamuela DUI Lawyers and Dangerous Impairment

As mentioned, the impairment must be so significant that it limits the person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, physical symptoms, such as glassy eyes and slurred speech, are insufficient in this area. Such physical symptoms can establish drug use, but that’s it.

To prove a DUI-drug case, Hawaii County prosecutors must establish a higher degree of impairment. For that, they usually need the three approved field sobriety tests, which are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: During the DUI eye test, officers look for involuntary pupil movements at certain viewing angles. These movements indicate the presence of nystagmus, which is also called a lazy eye. Many people have a lazy eye, but since the symptoms are so mild, they do not know they have one.
  • Walk and Turn: For the WAT, or heel-to-toe walk test, defendants must walk a straight line heel to toe forwards and backward. During the test, officers look for intoxication clues, such as using arms for balance and failure to follow instructions. Test conditions, such as lighting, greatly affect the outcome.
  • One Leg Stand: Much like the WAT, the OLS is a divided attention test that measures both physical dexterity and mental acuity. Also much like the WAT, test conditions greatly affect the outcome. It’s usually no coincidence that the OLS is usually the last test administered. By that time, physically fatigued defendants have a hard time standing on one leg.

Drug impairment cases are a bit easier for Kamuela DUI lawyers to fight than alcohol impairment cases. The law is very nuanced. In alcohol cases, prosecutors must prove the defendant could not avoid and accident. However, the issue in drug impairment is whether the defendant could get home in one piece. That’s a slightly different standard.

Seek Legal Help from an Assertive Kamuela DUI Attorney

Serious DUI-drug charges require unwavering representation. A conviction can have major implications on your personal and professional life. The law is nuanced and different defenses may need to be applied depending on the complexity of the case. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Kamuela DUI lawyer, contact Olson & Sons, L.C. on (808) 885-8533. Convenient payment plans are available.