Author of the Law of Aliyah, a Hawaii County ordinance enacted in 2012 that allows police to order a vehicle, at the driver’s expense, to be named after a 17-month-old child killed in a 2009 drunk driving accident questioning the implementation of the law.
The ordinance, which took effect on May 3, 2012, seeks to reduce the number of drunk drivers and traffic fatalities on the island, from motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs without a valid license. allows for. or with a fraudulent license plate or registration sticker.
It was named after Aliyah Braden, who died in 2009 after a drunk driver in a pickup truck ran a red light in Kailua-Kona and plowed into a car driven by the girl’s mother, Mavelyn Braden. who had sustained permanent injuries.
Over a two-year, 11-month period, from September 2018 to July 2021, there were 2,987 DUI arrests on the Big Island with 697 vehicles (23%) under the law of aliyah. Police said they were unable to provide data between 2016 and September 2018 due to changes in the department’s records system. According to newspaper archives, during the first four years, 2,168 vehicles were towed under the law.
It seems logical that the number of vehicles ordered under the Law of Aliyah would at least roughly correspond to the number of DUI arrests in the various districts around the island. However, the figures tell a different story.
Kona saw the highest number of DUI arrests between September 18, 2018 and July 28 this year, with 1,253 arrests and 168 tows (13%). Hilo was in second place with 794 arrests and 250 tow (31%), followed by Puna with 534 and 225 tow (42%) and South Kohala with 275 arrests and 19 tow (7%).
In that time period, there have been 50 DUI-related traffic deaths.
Ex- South Kona councilor Brenda Ford was the author of the Law of Aliyah.
“That is terrible. They (the police) are not properly enforcing the Law of Aliyah,” Ford said of the 23% tow rate.
Ford said the law was written so police officers had the discretion to call in tow. Once towed, the driver was responsible for towing fees and storage charges, and produced a valid license to claim the vehicle, valid insurance and valid registration.
“That’s why we wanted towing: because they have to take out their car by following the law. They have 30 days to do that or the car can be sold by the tow yard,” she said. “Personally, me Looks like they should do it every time. If they did, these people would get into their cars and stop driving. I had lost all patience with the DUI. “
Ford believes that the police need to make greater use of the law to discourage drunk driving.
“From the statistics it appears to me that the police have given up on towing the car. Shame on the police department,” she said. “I love the police department, but it’s terrible.”
Mayor Mitch Roth was the Hawaii County Prosecutor at the time the law went into effect and helped Ford with the language of the ordinance.
“I think it should be applied more to DUIs,” he said. “I think it’s being used for a purpose other than the way the law was written.”
Roth said he wants the law that has been put in place to be used and to allow officers to take vehicles of impaired drivers off the road.
Police Chief Paul Ferreira did not respond to multiple requests for comment over a period of a week. The police department said late Wednesday that it is still looking into the matter.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one person is injured in a drunk driving accident every 2 minutes and someone dies on American roads every 51 minutes.
MADD Hawaii board member Kurt Kendrow thinks the law of aliyah helps, but more needs to be done.
“Did it help? Absolutely,” he said. “It’s only part of the solution but the positive part of the solution.”
Kendrow said the biggest deterrents are people making sure they’re not driving when they’re disabled or letting people drive when they’re disabled.
“We’ve got people to stop it. It’s 100% preventable. They know the consequences. They know they can be killed or hit someone, hurt someone, their car and may lose their jobs,” he said. “It is not acceptable to drive impaired in 2021.”