Ask The Mayor: What’s the Consequence of Texting And Driving in Comparison to DUI?

July 21, 2019, 12:15 PM HST · Updated July 21, 12:17 PM
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Maui Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Since driving and using your cell phone is illegal in the State of Hawaii, does the Maui Police Department investigate this aspect of an accident? More and more drivers still continue to text, talk and use their cell phones, and possibly become distracted, so it seems this would be an important part of a crash investigation – especially if a fatality occurred. What are the legal consequences for a driver who is found distracted by using their cell phone and causing a serious and/or fatal accident? Is it comparable to driving drunk? Do they face jail?

A: I want to thank you for asking this question because I agree with you that drivers are using their cell phones more and more each day on our roadways. Distracted driving can be just as dangerous as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or driving under the influence, and jeopardizes the safety of our community.

My staff contacted the Maui Police Department and were told that they have thecapability and resources necessary to determine if a Mobile Electronic Device, or “cellular phone,” was being used during an accident and what the specific function or application on the device was being utilized.

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All fatal traffic collisions are thoroughly investigated by our Traffic Section’s team of highly-trained investigators and they always review every possible contributing factor in a fatal crash, including the use of Mobile Electronic Devices.

If it was determined that the use of a Mobile Electronic Device was a contributing factor in a motor vehicle collision, this information will be taken into consideration when determining fault in the collision, both criminally and civilly. This information could also influence criminal charge(s) against the at-fault driver, sentencing and term of imprisonment against the operator using the Mobile Electronic Device.

Additionally, a separate charge of Inattention to Driving may be added depending on theseverity of injuries. A charge of Inattention to Driving can carry an additional term of imprisonment of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Mahalo again for your question and I will continue to appeal to our residents and visitors to practice safe driving, and pray one day we will have zero fatalities in a year.

Want to Ask The Mayor?

Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email [email protected]

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