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Hawaii DUI (OVII) Laws

In Hawaii, it is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. A person will be convicted of an OVII if they operate or assume actual physical control of a vehicle:

(1)  while under the influence of alcohol that impairs the mental state or ability to care and guard against casualty

(2)  while under the influence of any drug that impairs a person’s ability to operate a vehicle in a careful manner

(3)  with a blood alcohol content (BAC) .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210L of breath OR

(4)  with .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100mL or cubic centimeters of blood

within three hours after the time the person was arrested shown by chemical analysis or other approved techniques of the person’s blood, breath, or urine.

Blood alcohol content is used to define intoxication and provides a rough measure of impairment. A person can still be arrested for OVII even if they do not have a BAC of .08. If the driver is under other intoxicating substances that are found to impair him/her to the point of not driving safely, the driver could still be charged with an OVII. If the driver is found to be driving while under the influence of some form of an intoxicating substance, their BAC does not need to reach the legal limit of .08.

If the driver is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, the officer must take a blood or urine test. A person can be OVII if they are under the influence of any drug that will impair their ability to drive. As long as the officer has probable cause that the driver was under the influence of drugs at the time the driver was pulled over, the officer can demand a blood or urine test be done.

A first offense for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVII) is a misdemeanor. A first offense means the first time charged with OVII. Hawaii also has a “look-back” period where an OVII is charged as a first offense if the offender has not had any other OVII offense within the five year look back period. If an offender has had no DUI offenses in a five year period and is charged with a DUI after the five years, it will be looked at as a first offense. The second charge of OVII within a five-year period is also a misdemeanor charge. The 3rd charge of OVII in a five-year period is also a misdemeanor charge.  A misdemeanor is an offense where the term of imprisonment is not longer than a year. A person found guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant will have a chemical test that reveals a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

A habitual operator of a vehicle under an intoxicant is a class C felony. A class C felony is defined that the punishment of imprisonment is not over 5 years.  A habitual operator of a vehicle is a person who operates a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant more than three times in ten years. A habitual operator will face felony charges on their 4th OVII charge in ten years.

A highly intoxicated driver is a misdemeanor charge. A highly intoxicated driver will have a BAC of .15. If a driver is highly intoxicated at the time of the arrest or three hours after the arrest, the sentence could be up to 1 year in jail. Since a misdemeanor is an offense where imprisonment is up to 1 year, a highly intoxicated driving offense is still only a misdemeanor.


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