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Does Hawaii have a point system?

A point system is a method many states use to keep track of how many traffic infractions a driver has committed. The state will assign points for certain offenses, such as speeding or passing a stopped school bus. If a driver accumulates too many points, he or she could lose driving privileges.

Hawaii used to have a point system, but lawmakers got rid of it a few years ago. Having no point system does not, however, give drivers in Hawaii free rein to commit as many traffic infractions as they want. Hawaii's Department of Licensing uses a different demerit system, instead.

Traffic penalties in Hawaii

If you commit a traffic infraction in Hawaii, the courts will typically classify it as a civil offense rather than a criminal one. You could face criminal charges, however, if the infraction is serious enough. Common traffic offenses that qualify as misdemeanors are drunk driving, driving without insurance, reckless driving and driving without a license. A misdemeanor could result in fines, losing your driver's license and even jail time.

Less-serious offenses, such as speeding, running a red light, driving without a seatbelt and parking illegally count as civil traffic infractions, not crimes. Avoiding a criminal charge does not necessarily mean escaping penalties, however. Despite having no point system, the Hawaii DOL keeps track of moving violations as part of your driving record.

If the DOL notices you have too many traffic infractions on your record, it could order temporary driver's license suspension. Hawaii is unique in that a court can decide whether to revoke someone's license after accruing too many tickets. A more common outcome, however, is having to pay for expensive SR22 insurance.

How to avoid serious traffic penalties

Having no point system does not mean no one is keeping track of how many traffic laws you have broken in Hawaii. The DOL could still penalize you for accumulating too many infractions. The best way to protect yourself from serious penalties and actions against your license is to hire an attorney to help you fight the ticket.

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Rustam A. Barbee, Attorney at Law
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