Ask The Mayor: Is it Legal? Single Car Accident While Intoxicated?

January 5, 2015, 7:41 AM HST · Updated January 11, 7:02 PM
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File photo by Wendy Osher.

File photo by Wendy Osher.

The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.

By Mayor Alan Arakawa

Q: I’ve noticed that there is a lot of drunk driving on the island. I know of two drunk driving accidents involving people I know. They were drunk and driving their vehicles home when they got into an accident.

They didn’t hurt anyone else, but their vehicles were badly damaged and they were injured. Police officers were called to take reports, but in both of these cases, no one got a DUI.

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My question is, are there exceptions to DUI laws where you can be involved in a drunk driving accident but walk away without a DUI? Thank you.

A: I can’t speak to those specific DUI accidents you mentioned because I don’t know the details, but in general, no, there are no exceptions to the law.

I do know that if the driver was injured as you describe, and police had probable cause to believe the person was driving under the influence of an intoxicant, the individual would have been subjected to a mandatory blood draw. This means a person does not have the option of taking a breathalizer test; their blood will be drawn, by force if necessary, and later tested.

Even if a driver is hospitalized and later released pending further investigation, they would not be arrested or charged with a DUI right away, until their blood alcohol level results are sent to the County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

At that time, the Prosecutor’s Office will make a determination whether to submit a complaint and summons for the person to appear in court. This process can take at the very least six to eight weeks, which is why it may appear that no action had been taken yet involving the cases you mentioned.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: [email protected], phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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