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Reckless driving laws in Hawaii

If you find yourself facing reckless driving charges in Hawaii, it helps to know what this means and what would be the likely consequences. In addition to considering criminal penalties, it is important to understand how these charges can affect your driver's license.

Generally, Hawaiian law defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle or riding an animal in a way that obviously puts other people or their property at risk of harm. The law does not list specific types of conduct that meet this definition.

What is reckless driving?

Common types of conduct that will likely result in reckless driving charges include extreme speeding, running a red light, swerving and other failures to obey traffic laws. One does not have to break a specific traffic rule to drive recklessly; the law expects drivers to use common sense and avoid danger even when there is no sign posted. For example, if you see a stopped vehicle ahead, failing to slow down (even though you continue driving under the speed limit) can be reckless, assuming you had the opportunity to do so.

What are the legal penalties?

Reckless driving counts as a misdemeanor and can incur a penalty of up to 30 days of incarceration and up to $1,000 in fines. The resulting points on your license can range between three and six. The court will make a specific decision based on a range of relevant factors.

Will I lose my license?

Further, the court and the Department of Transportation can suspend your license for a period of between one and six months. Again, relevant factors include the circumstances of the conduct in question, as well as whether you have previous traffic offenses within the past two years. If you do face suspension, you may be able to get a conditional license.

In addition to these direct consequences, you may also find your insurer has raised your premiums as a result of a reckless driving conviction. In some situations, if your penalties include license suspension, you may have to purchase SR22 insurance at a higher cost.

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Rustam A. Barbee, Attorney at Law
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