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BY JONATHAN BOLIVAR HONOLULU Lt. Governor Aiona Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 2897, as acting governor, which strengthens the ignition interlock law in Hawaii.

“This measure provides resources to improve our efforts to stop impaired driving and the tragedies that result from drunk driving,” said Lt. Governor Aiona. “Most of the injuries, fatalities and property damage caused by drunk drivers are preventable and we must keep these drivers off of our highways.”

The measure, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2011, is the third of three laws enacted since 2008 to implement the ignition interlock program to keep drunk drivers off of Hawai‘i’s highways.

In 2008, Governor Lingle signed Act 171 that established the framework for an ignition interlock program in Hawai‘i. That Act created a 26-member Task Force to work out the steps to implement the program.

In 2009, the Governor signed Act 88 that addressed some of the key implementation issues and extended the Task Force for another year. It also gave the State Department of Transportation (DOT) rulemaking authority to operate the program and allowed the department to seek a single vendor to install and maintain the interlock devices.

The latest law updates the previous two measures and makes policy changes. Most notably, this measure eliminates probation for second and third time offenders and instead these convicted offenders will be required to show “proof of compliance” with the interlock law.

Additional highlights of the new law include:
*  Creates the offense of tampering with an interlock device or aiding and abetting the circumvention of a device. Those convicted are subject to fines and jail time.

*  Makes refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test a petty misdemeanor.

*  Clarifies definition, including the definition of ignition interlock device, and repeals the definition of highly intoxicated driver.

*  Specifies the contents of the notification of revocation of a driver’s license, or vehicle registration including terms for surrendering of a vehicle’s license plates.

*  Forbids issuing an ignition interlock system to a person who was arrested and did not hold a valid driver’s license at the time they were driving.

“I applaud our ignition interlock Task Force members, which include county prosecutors, public defenders, public safety officers, transportation officials and highway safety advocates, for the long hours and hard work they put in to make our roads safe,” the Lt. Governor added.

Jonathan Bolivar is with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor

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