Committee Passes Alcohol Ban for DUI Offenders

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed with amendments a measure that would prohibit anyone convicted of DUI or habitual DUI from purchasing or publicly consuming alcohol for a period of three years following conviction or administrative license revocation.

House Bill 703, introduced by Judiciary Chairman Chris Lee, also seeks to lower the threshold for the offense of habitual DUI from three or more convictions in 10 years to two or more convictions in a decade.

Aye votes for the measure include Big Island Reps. Joy San Buenaventura, the judiciary vice chairwoman; Richard Creagan; and Nicole Lowen.

The bill passed 9-0. It now goes to the House Finance Committee.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Hawaii submitted testimony saying it “supports the intent … of reducing highway injuries and fatalities” and is in favor of the provision to lower the threshold for habitual DUI and increasing fines for repeat offenders. The group said it “locally has no position” on the three-year ban on offenders purchasing or publicly consuming alcohol.

“It is MADD’s policy to research issues and countermeasures and to review data before creating a position which then must be accepted by the national board of MADD,” the group stated. “In our brief time to research the issue of a liquor restriction, we only see that the state of Tennessee had introduced a bill in its legislature in 2018 but we have no information about whether it has passed.

“If the bill has passed, there will need to be time to study its effectiveness.”

The Hawaii measure is opposed by the state Office of the Public Defender, which called the three-year prohibition on alcohol “excessive,” and said DUI is a symptom the defendant might suffer from a substance abuse problem.

“Therefore, instead of focusing on punishment such as a three-year alcohol prohibition, the Legislature should place an emphasis on treatment and education,” the Public Defender said in its testimony.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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