he Lieutenant Governor today signed SB2897 RELATING TO HIGHWAY SAFETY, pertaining to Hawaii’s Ignition Interlock law. The following is a statement from Rep. Sharon Har (District 40 – Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa), who introduced the original legislation on this issue in 2008.
“Hawaii has the highest percentage of alcohol-related fatalities in the United States. This new law sends a message that drunk driving will no longer be tolerated, even in those cases where no innocent bystanders are harmed.
We must all accept individual responsibility by drinking responsibly and urging others to do the same. The ignition interlock program will help us in the state of Hawaii by creating a cultural, systemic change in the often cavalier way we perceive drinking and driving. The program not only addresses the immediate issue of getting drunk drivers off our roads, but will assist the state in determining whether an individual has an alcohol abuse problem and should be forced into treatment.
I introduced legislation on this issue after I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. I was fortunate to survive my accident, but thousands of lives are senselessly cut short every year. I strongly believe that this bill will make a significant difference and save lives.”
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
· An ignition interlock is a breathalyzer device that will be required to be installed to the ignition of the vehicle of a driver once arrested for drunk driving. In order to start his or her vehicle, the driver must blow into the device, and if the driver is over the legal blood alcohol content limit, the car will not start. A small camera ensures that the offender does not tamper with the device or have someone else blow into it.
· In 2008, Rep. Har introduced legislation (HB2377) on the ignition interlock device after she was hit head-on by a drunk driver; it was enacted as Act 171.
· Act 171 provided the basic framework for an ignition interlock system in Hawaii and created a task force to address the implementation and administration of the program.
· In 2009, the legislature passed HB981, which incorporated the recommendations of the task force; that bill was enacted as Act 88.
· SB2897 makes final changes that will allow ignition interlock to go into effect on January 1, 2011.
· Among other provisions, SB2897 makes refusal to take a breathalyzer test a misdemeanor. It also requires the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle operated by the offender.