Coalition Gathers to Oppose 24-Hour Alcohol Sales on MauiApril 11, 2017, 7:23 PM HST · Updated April 11, 8:38 PM Nikki Schenfeld · 1 Comment
A public sign waving took place this afternoon in Kahului to oppose Maui County’s new 24-hour alcohol sales law.
Nearly 100 residents showed up to repeal the law, including the founder of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaiʻi and a representative of the State of Hawaiʻi Organization of Police Officers.
The new law went into effect on March 4, 2017, lifting the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. restriction on the sale of alcohol at supermarkets, convenience stores and other after hours retail spots.
Speakers at the event said that increasing the hours of alcohol sales in the county will have a negative impact on the community.
Eric Correa, representative of SHOPO said, “24-hour sales of liquor and unlimited hostess bar license will relate to more alcohol related incidences – alcohol related incidents include; domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, traffic fatalities, underage drinkings, fights, human trafficking, alcoholism which can put officers in harms way.”
Rick Collins, a member of the underage drinking prevention coalition added, “Center of Diseases Control as well as the World Health Organization make it very clear that increasing the availability of alcohol in a community does have significant changes – it increases DUI rates, increases consumption rates especially in young people and those are dangerous for our community.”
The police department was not contacted for input on the proposed changes to the law prior to it being passed. Police officials said, “We believe the recent changes to the law regarding the sale of liquor throughout Maui county are not in the best interest of public safety.”
Statistics provided by MPD show that in 2015, Maui County had four alcohol related fatalities that occurred between the hours of 1 and 6 a.m. That same year, 45% of the 24 fatal crashes involved at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist who had been drinking alcohol.
In a statement made earlier today, Lt. Governor Tsutsui said, “I strongly support the repeal of the new 24-hour alcohol sales law, as I believe it poses a serious threat to the health and safety of our community.”
“The prior restrictions, which allowed the sale of alcohol only between specified hours, actively helped to reduce incidences of excessive alcohol consumption and relating harms making Maui a safer place for residents and visitors,” Tsutsui said in his statement. “The safety and well being of the community should be our primary objective when making changes to the law. In order to preserve Maui’s unique tight-knit family environment, I believe it’s necessary to reinstate the liquor sales restrictions,” Tsutsui concluded.
“The likelihood of an increase in intoxicated drivers on the roadways and alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, in addition to an increase in other alcohol-related offenses, will not only increase the demand on our police resources but other emergency services such as the Fire Department and Medics,” police representatives added.
Organizers of the sign waving demonstration are also seeking a public hearing to reconsider amendments approved on Feb. 8, 2017 by the Liquor Commission.
A petition entitled, “County of Maui Liquor Commission: Repeal 24-Hour Alcohol Sales in Maui County” was launched on the Change.org website on behalf of the Coalition to Repeal 24-Hour Alcohol Sales with a goal to obtain 1,000 signatures.
The coalition is made up of concerned organizations and citizens who believe that “round the clock retail sales of alcohol will not contribute to making our community stronger or better.” “Instead,” they said, “it creates greater risks for our community.”