Arrest Made on Maui as Impaired Driving Awareness Events Roll Out Statewide
Maui police made at least one arrest during the Third Annual Hannah Brown Memorial Impaired Driving Awareness Checkpoint and Rally on Wednesday night along the Kūihelani Highway in Central Maui. Police say a woman driving toward the checkpoint attempted to turn around and switch drivers just as the checkpoint was winding down operations.
In addition to the arrest, police also screened nearly 200 vehicles, and issued four citations to individuals driving without a valid drivers license and proper child restraints. It’s just the beginning of a holiday effort across the state, launched yesterday to curb impaired driving ahead of the holidays.
Last night’s checkpoint was set up at the same location where Maui teen, Hannah Brown, lost her life on June 23, 2019. The deadly crash occurred when a drunk driver was traveling in the wrong direction on the highway and collided head-on into the car she was in. Hannah was 19 years old.
“Department wise, and community wise, it really woke people up,” said Maui Police Traffic Commander Lieutenant William Hankins who stood in front of the Wailuku Police station, and behind a table set with 15 lei and name tags, representing someone who is not coming to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
So far this year, Maui County has had 15 traffic fatalities compared to six at the same time last year. That’s a 150% increase. Nine of the fatalities (60%) were linked to alcohol, drugs and speed.
“It’s extremely unacceptable,” said Lt. Hankins. “In 2020 we made great strides. A lot of people will tell you that it was because of the pandemic and things were locked down, that’s why the fatalities went down. [That’s] not true. Nationwide, fatalities went up. Hawaiʻi was the leader in the nation last year in reducing fatalities by 20%. Maui County carried the state at 52%. That’s what we were able to do last year by getting the message out about impaired driving and getting people to slow down and drive with aloha.”
The event kicked off what is now a statewide event to combat impaired and distracted driving ahead of the holidays. The “No Excuses” campaign to drive safely includes participation from the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, Hawaiʻi State Department of Health, four county police departments, MADD Hawaiʻi, community members and other traffic safety partners.
“The one thing that hurts us the most right now is we’ll never get to watch our daughter get married; we’ll never get to watch our daughter have children. We miss her every single day of our lives,” said Charlene Brown, Hannah’s mother. “She will be forever 19. Her birthday is on Monday, Nov. 29. She would have been 22 years old. I don’t ever talk of her as past tense. To me she’s still alive. She’s still here. I wish I would wake up from this nightmare, and that she would come running down the driveway with her big smile saying ‘Here I am… I didn’t mean to be gone so long.’ We just miss her so, so much.”
“I’m glad Hannah is able to continue serving the community, even though she’s not here physically. She wanted to do great things in life, and she’s doing great things,” said Charlene Brown. “We just ask the community that we have to do this together.”
Also, on hand at the event was Dané Sadang, who lost her 17-year-old son, Kahiau Hill on May 30, 2021 on the Kahekili Highway in Waiheʻe; and Andrea Maniago who began volunteering with MADD in 2009 after losing her 16-year-old son Kaio Fukushima to a drunk driver.
“Impaired driving and speeding is not a police alone problem. This is something that the entire community needs to address,” said Lt. Hankins who is pushing for a 0.05 law, to lower the Blood Alcohol Level for someone to be considered to be intoxicated.
“We see drinkers come in, and they will tell you at 0.05, consistently, they don’t feel right to drive. If you understand how alcohol works, it decreases your judgment as the first thing, and then that’s where the bad decisions happen. I can guarantee you Lynsey Jio had no intentions of killing Hannah Brown, but piss poor decision making is exactly what happened that night, and for that, this family has to suffer for the rest of their life. It’s not fair,” said Lt. Hankins. “We can make changes now by pushing for a 0.05 and tighten up our DUI laws. Changes can happen, and it starts right here.”
“Everyone knows of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. It’s widely publicized and it happens every year in mid-December,” said Lt. Hankins noting that the end of the year is too late. “We’re already at 150% for Maui County. What are we waiting for? So we’re kicking this off now… the day before Thanksgiving, because this is traditionally when the deadliest time of the year begins.”