According to a Hawaii TV station, State Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu will likely be prosecuted under the state’s new law for drivers caught with high blood-alcohol levels. The law applies to people with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or more. Karamatsu was arrested on charges of driving under the influence on Tuesday and police said Karamatsu’s blood-alcohol level was 0.171.
If convicted under the new law, which Karamatsu voted for, his license will be suspended for six months to a year and his vehicle registration will be confiscated.
Karamatsu’s response to the arrest was the following: “I am disappointed with myself and the situation, but there’s some circumstances that will be brought up later.” It will be interested to see whether or not he receives any preferential treatment because of his job title.
While strict DUI punishments are popular with the general public, they often have unintended consequences. Many people rely on their vehicles for employment and will continue to drive even after their license has been suspended. They also frequently end up driving without insurance. The common response to this problem is that since they broke the law they don’t have any right to complain, but such responses are short-sighted.
Strict DUI laws have not proven to be a deterrent for hardcore DUI offenders. That’s why you continue to hear about people being arrested for their seventh or eighth offense despite increasing penalties across the country. The end result of this kind of legislation is just more unlicensed, uninsured drivers on the road with no corresponding decrease in accidents caused by impaired drivers. That’s not exactly a great trade.
Getting dangerous drivers off the road is worthy goal, but lawmakers need to be realistic about the impact that their legislation will have and come up with better solutions.