Hawaii DUI Laws (Everything You Should Know)

Hawaii DUI Laws (Everything You Should Know)

Out of 308 deadly crashes reported in Hawaii, 30% involved drunk driving. That translates to 92 deaths. 

Needless to say, DUI is a very serious issue. 

That’s why the State of Hawaii implements strict DUI laws.

And that’s why, today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about these Hawaii DUI laws. 

We’re going to look at all the laws related to DUI, as well as the penalties and dangers. 

Plus, we’ll also give you some helpful tips on how to avoid driving under the influence. 

So are you ready?

Let’s begin!

DUI Laws in Hawaii 

Hawaii DUI Laws

In Hawaii, there are many laws concerning DUI. These are:

  • Illegal BAC levels
  • Implied consent
  • Administrative license revocation 
  • Zero tolerance 

Let’s look at these laws in detail one by one. 

Illegal BAC Levels

What does Hawaii consider drunk driving?

Well, here are the illegal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels in Hawaii:

  • For drivers aged 21 or older – 0.08% BAC level
  • For drivers holding CDLs – 0.04% BAC level
  • For drivers under 21 years old – 0.02% BAC level 

With a BAC level of 0.08%, you already have poor muscle coordination — you’ll feel imbalanced when you move and have a slower reaction time.

Also, at this point, you typically have difficulty concentrating and controlling speed. You can imagine how dangerous that is if you’re behind the wheel.

The laws are stricter for commercial drivers. The reason behind this is that these drivers operate trucks, vehicles that need a lot more concentration and control to operate. Plus, a crash with a truck results in more deadly situations. 

As for underage drinkers, Hawaii has a zero-tolerance policy. We’ll talk more about this below. 

All that said, the smallest drop of alcohol affects your driving abilities, even if your BAC is below 0.08%. Having two drinks brings it to around 0.02%, and although you may consider this low, it already makes multitasking and visual tracking difficult.

To ensure everyone’s safety, avoid driving when you’ve had a drink.

Implied Consent

A police officer can pull you over if he has reasonable cause that you are driving under the influence. In these situations, Hawaii’s Implied Consent law takes effect.

Hawaii’s implied consent law states that… 

“Drivers holding a valid Hawaii driver’s license agree to undergo a blood, breath, or urine test automatically.” 

This means that, if you are suspected of DUI, you MUST take a test to check your BAC level. 

If you refuse to test, it could lead to license suspension. Now, the length of the suspension depends on your age and the number of offenses you’ve committed within 5 years. 

The table below shows the suspensions you may face if you refuse testing: 

OffenseDrivers 21 and OlderUnderage Drivers(below 21)
First2 years12 months
Second3 years2 to 5 years
Third4 years
Fourth and Subsequent10 years

Sounds a bit harsh?

It’s supposed to be.

Administrative License Revocation

In Hawaii, if your test results show your BAC is above the allowable limit, you’ll face automatic administrative license revocation. 

The length of your license’s revocation depends on whether you’ve had any other suspensions in the last 5 years. Here’s an overview of the possible consequences:

Suspensions Within the Last 5 Years:Length of License Revocation:
112 months
218 months
324 months
4 and subsequent5 to 10 years

Zero Tolerance

If you think Hawaii’s laws are strict for drivers 21 and older, you should see what’s in place for those who are underaged. 

Hawaii has a Zero Tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. This means no driver under 21 can operate a motor vehicle with ANY alcohol in their system. As we mentioned, it’s already illegal for a BAC level of as little as 0.02%. 

DUI Penalties in Hawaii

The consequences of a DUI in Hawaii are severe and long-lasting, even if it’s a first offense. Let’s look at what you could face in these situations.

DUI Penalties for Underaged Drivers

If you’re below 21, penalties may include alcohol counseling, restricted driving privileges, fines, and community service. 

Here’s a table showing you the penalties for underage DUI drivers. 

OffenseAbuse CounselingLicense RevocationFinesCommunity Service
First10 hours180 days$150 to $500Up to 36 hours
Second 1 year$300 to $1,000Up to 50 hours
Third 2 years$300 to $1,000Up to 100 hours

Don’t forget that the Implied Consent law applies to underage drivers, too, and refusing can lead to even more penalties. 

DUI Penalties for Drivers 21 and Older

If you’re of legal age, a DUI has the following penalties:

First Offense (No prior DUI convictions in the last ten years)

  • 1-year license revocation
  • Attending a 14-hour rehabilitation program
  • 72 hours of community service
  • Fines from $250 to $1,000
  • 48 hours to 5 days of possible jail time 

Second Offense (Has one prior DUI within the last ten years)

  • 2 to 3-year license revocation
  • Up to 240 hours of community service
  • Fines from $1,000 to $3,000
  • 5 to 30 days of possible jail time

Habitual Violator (Has two prior DUI convictions or one Habitual Violation within the last ten years)

A habitual violation is a Class C felony. The penalties for this are:

  • 5 years in prison or 5 years on probation
  • License revocation between 3 to 5 years 
  • Fines worth $2,000 to $5,000
  • At least 10 days of jail time
  • Undergo substance abuse counseling
  • Complete a driver’s education program

The state may also forfeit the vehicle you were driving while under the influence.

DUI with Child Passengers

It’s bad enough to be driving alone while under the influence. Things become even worse when you have a passenger younger than 15.

Situations like this result in an additional $500 fine and 48 hours in jail.

Dangers of DUI

What exactly makes drinking and driving dangerous? I mean, alcohol puts you in a relaxed state, which may make you feel better.

Now, if you’re just at a friend’s house, lounging on a couch, it may not be a hazard. However, getting behind the wheel means doing so without having control of your faculties.

You may not realize it, but drinking (no matter how little) significantly impairs your driving skills in the following ways:

  • Slows down reaction time: You tend to react slower to situations. It becomes difficult to make quick movements. These may lead to accidents if the car in front of you suddenly brakes or a pedestrian crosses the street.
  • Poor judgment: It’s not just about making sound decisions while behind the wheel (although that’s part of it). Alcohol makes it difficult to gauge the distance between you and another vehicle, leading to choices that are more likely to cause collisions.
  • Increases the likelihood of becoming distracted: Drinking makes concentrating more difficult, which is hazardous when driving because you need to give it your undivided attention. Multitasking also becomes a challenge. Unfortunately, you must be able to simultaneously stay in the right lane, manage your speed, and obey traffic signals on the road.
  • Poor vision: Blurred vision is a natural effect of drinking. Seeing what’s in your peripheral vision is as important as what’s in front of you.

Remember drinking while driving makes you a hazard not simply to yourself, but to everyone else that shares the road with you.

How to Avoid DUI

It’s always best to be responsible — and this means NOT DRINKING when you know you have to drive. However, if it really can’t be helped, keep the following things in mind:

  • Know your limits. Most people think their tolerance level is higher than it actually is.
  • Say no. Don’t let anyone pressure you to drink. If you choose to drink, don’t do it on an empty stomach. Ensure you eat food and drink water.
  • Have a designated driver. Have a standing agreement with your friends and companions, so one person always knows he’ll need to get behind the wheel when the night is over.
  • Use TNCs. Hail a cab or call an Uber or a Lyft if you and your friends engage in social drinking. It’s a better option than driving.
  • Protect your friends. Help your friends avoid the same situation, even if it means getting their keys.
  • Wait. Time is your best friend when trying to sober up (no, coffee does not work). If, after two or three hours, you know you still can’t drive safely, consider staying over.

Frequently Asked Questions About DUIs in Hawaii

Got some questions about DUI in Hawaii? Then let’s answer some of the most frequently asked ones.

Are DUI checkpoints legal in Hawaii?

Yes, in Hawaii, impaired driver checkpoints are legal. It’s part of the state’s strategy to keep its roadways safe, lessen motor vehicle injuries, and prevent fatal crashes.

Is a first-offense DUI a felony in Hawaii? 

No. A DUI becomes a Class C felony once you have a habitual violation. That means you already have two prior DUIs on your record within the last ten years.

A prior habitual violation conviction also leads to the same consequence if you commit the same offense.

How can I get out of a DUI in Hawaii?

There are several ways to beat a DUI charge in Hawaii. Look at the following questions and see if any of these apply to you:

  • Did the officer have probable cause to pull you over? Were you weaving in and out or driving erratically?
  • Did the officer see you behind the wheel?
  • Did he administer the sobriety test properly?
  • Could external forces (like weather conditions) affect the sobriety test results?

If you checked any of these, you might have a fighting chance of getting the charge dismissed.

Don’t forget to request a hearing with ADLRO (Administration Driver’s License Revocation Agency) to contest your license suspension. If you don’t, you may automatically lose your driving privileges. 

How many points is a DUI in Hawaii?

Unlike other states, Hawaii doesn’t use a point system. That said, the state does record all your moving violations. You may lose your driving privileges if you incur too many.

How long does a DUI stay on your driving record in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, a DUI conviction stays on your record for 5 years. This may affect your employment options and insurance rates as long as it remains.


And there you have it — all the information you need to know about the Hawaii DUI laws.

Now you know how dangerous drunk driving is — not only to you but to everyone using Hawaii’s roadways.

Also, now you know how strict and serious the State of Hawaii is about drunk driving. 

Yes, there are several ways to avoid a DUI, but the simplest is this: don’t drink and drive!

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