HAWAII POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC SERVICES SECTION
SERGEANT DEXTER VERIATO
MARCH 3, 2006
The Hawaii County Impaired Driving Task Force reports that 50% of all traffic related deaths in 2005, involved a driver who had been drinking or on drugs. “Eight of those fatalities had both alcohol and drugs in their system at the time of the crash”, says Jackie Murai, coordinator of the Impaired Driving Task Force.
“Our mission is to work with the community to bring those numbers down”, says Murai. “On average from 1988-2001, the alcohol related death rate in Hawaii County was almost 53%, while the national average was 40% and the State’s rate was 47%”.
Sergeant Dexter Veriato of the Hawaii Police Department’s Traffic Services Section agrees with the task force. “Those numbers are disturbing, but the Impaired Driving Task Force has been doing a great job in meeting with the prosecutors and the medical community to find ways to improve the reporting and convictions of impaired drivers”.
The Impaired Driving Task Force has also been conducting community meetings island wide to bring awareness to the problem and to seek help from the public to prevent further deaths.
Last year police conducted 144 DUI checkpoints throughout the county, which was the highest number in the state. Nearly 20,000 vehicles were screened and there were 1,069 drivers who were arrested for operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
“We will continue with our sobriety checkpoints as part of the statewide 52-12 Program” said Sergeant Veriato. The 52-12 Program is part of the Nation wide “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose” Campaign, targeting impaired drivers.
In 2005, Mayor Harry Kim established the Impaired Driving Task Force, consisting of county and state agencies, substance abuse agencies, driver education instructors, traffic safety advocates and concerned citizens. The goals of the task force are to develop strategies to increase awareness of the impaired driving problem and to reduce the number of impaired driving fatalities and injuries. The meetings are held island wide through videoconferencing and the public is welcome to attend. For more information, contact Jackie Murai at 961-8879.
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