Maui News

Maui Community Holds Impaired Driving Enforcement Rally

By JD Pells
July 3, 2021, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated July 3, 4:06 PM
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Members of Maui’s community who have lost loved ones to impaired driving gathered alongside the Maui Police Department in Kahului yesterday to spread awareness and prevent further deaths caused by impaired driving.

The family of Hannah Brown, who was killed in a collision by an impaired driver on Kuihelani Highway in Kahului two years ago, has served the Maui community every year since her death by organizing a sign waiving.

Several families who bared witness to such tragedies showed their support at the event, including members from the Hill family, who lost 16-year-old Kahiau Hill in a car crash in Waiehu this summer.

A mother and MAAD volunteer honors her son who tragically died in a drunk driving accident 12 years ago. Photo by JD Pells.

Another family member and volunteer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) said, “I’m here for my son. July 5 is the anniversary that he passed away 12 years ago, so since then, I’ve just been trying to help. I’m here with MAAD. For today, I’m also here to help support Hannah Brown’s family.”

In 2021, the MPD has seen a 7% increase in OUI (operating while under the influence) arrests and a 50% increase in vehicle tows for OUI offenses compared to 2020. To date, there have been six fatal crashes in Maui County this year, three of which are alcohol-drug related, compared to 11 fatal crashes including six that were alcohol-drug involved in all of 2020.

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“We want people to understand that this is serious and we want to keep people alive,” said Lt. William Hankins, who’s been with the MPD 30 years. “I’ve said it last year and the year before, we’re really tired of knocking on doors and telling people they’ve lost loved ones when we don’t have to because someone made a bad choice to drink or use drugs and drive.”

  • The Brown family Friday, July 2, 2021. Photo by JD Pells.
  • Family of a victim of a drunk driving fatality. Photo by JD Pells.
  • The Maui Police Department show their support at the rally on Friday. Photo by JD Pells.
  • Family of a victim of a drunk driving fatality. Photo by JD Pells.
  • Cars drive through Kahului, passing and honking their horns at rally members near Hoaloha Park. Photo by JD Pells
  • The Maui Police Department show their support at the rally on Friday. Photo by JD Pells.
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The Maui Police Department implores everyone to have a plan before starting to celebrate this weekend.

“Have a safe way to get home and do not rely on making a plan after you start drinking because the plan you make after you start drinking is generally the wrong plan,” said Hankins. “If you have to figure, ‘I have to stop drinking now so I can time it’, you’re already making the wrong decision.”

The MPD can make arrests at lower levels than the legal limit — .080 BAC — if they can prove impairment, according to Lt. Hankins. The MPD is also prepared to test for drugs such as marijuana even if a driver has blown a zero on the breathalyzer, running drivers through an evaluation by “drug recognition experts” and conducting blood and urine test that can confirm such evaluations.

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You can report impaired driving this weekend by calling 911, reporting the location, description and license plate of the car. The MPD suggests staying with the car until they arrive.

“Anyone who reports somebody to the police for impaired driving is saving someone’s life. That’s the way we look at it,” Hankins said. “If you got a friend who’s attempting to drive home drunk, you do whatever you have to do.”

The Brown family asks that, if you wish you could do something, please don’t drink and drive this weekend.

JD Pells
JD is a multimedia journalist from Kula, HI. He is currently earning his degree in journalism at Texas Christian University.
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