DUI Arrests Reach New Record 11/26/99

PHONE: 961-2244
NOVEMBER 26, 1999


The Hawaii County Police Department has already surpassed the record number of drunk driving arrests for all of last year.

As of Thursday, November 25, 1999, Big Island police had arrested 1,073 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Last year, officers had arrested 1,056 motorists for drunk driving — then a record number for one year.

In addition to the record number of DUI arrests, the number of alcohol-related fatalities so far this year was eight, compared to 14 at the same time last year, a decrease of 43 percent.

Police Chief Wayne Carvalho attributed the new record of DUI arrests to vigilance by police officers — and a continuing problem with motorists who drink and drive.

“We believed last year was a record year that would stand for some time,” Carvalho said, “yet we’ve already surpassed last year’s totals.”

The chief attributed at least part of the problem to repeat offenders, saying:

“We have become increasingly aware that there are a number of drivers who have repeated arrests and convictions for drunk driving, yet they are still on the road.

“We need to strengthen the laws against drunk driving and make the penalties more severe. Perhaps it’s time to adopt procedures used successfully in other jurisdictions and forfeit the vehicles of repeat offenders.”

As for the rest of the year, he said, the department is beefing up roadblocks and roving patrols in order to cut down on drunk driving during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The working hours of the Traffic Enforcement Unit have also been changed to keep the officers on the road when most drunk driving offenses occur, the chief said.

“By increasing traffic enforcement efforts over the holidays,” Carvalho said, “we hope to keep down the number of traffic accidents and fatalities and ensure a safe and happy holiday season for everyone.”

He noted that the number of fatalities has declined, from 38 fatalities at this time last year to 28 so far this year, a decrease of 26 percent

Last year, there were a total of 44 traffic fatalities on the Big Island. Of these, a total of 14, or 32 percent, were alcohol-related.

Of the 28 traffic fatalities on the Big Island so far this year, eight of them, or 29 percent, have been related to drunk driving.

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