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Maui county bill wants police to tow cars from drunken drivers

hould drunk drivers cars be towed after their arrest? A Maui county bill would do just that. It’s a bill some lawmakers hope could save lives.

“If you’re caught and it’s deemed you’re driving under the influence. The police department has the ability to take your car away,” Yuki Lei Sugimura, Maui County Council member, said.

Right now, when a drunk driver is cited, their car is left at the scene. The measure was introduced by Sugimura, who says the driver will also pay for the tow and storage fees for up to 30 days. It’s modeled after Aliyah’s Law on the Big Island, where a drunk driver ran a red light, crashed into a car, and killed 17-month-old Aliyah Braden in 2009.

“We’re taking a serious stand against drunk driving,” Sugimura said. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving and I want people to remember that and look for other alternatives.”

The measure is already getting support from the police department.

“Our goal is to take the weapon away from those who are driving impaired,” Lt. William Hankins, Maui Police Department, said.

Maui police say some offenders go back to pick up the car but are still under the influence after posting bail. It’s also alarmed by statistics this year, with more than 440 impaired driving arrests as of November: 90 percent of them alcohol-related.

“If we don’t do something, the numbers are gonna continue to climb. This is not just a police problem, it’s a community problem,” Hankins said. “We’re gonna do everything we can and working with all our partners to make Maui County the safest place to drive.”

Another supporter is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a group that’s been educating people on the dangers of impaired driving for the past 35 years.

“We got the message out to the people who are capable of getting the message. The people that are still driving drunk are people who are either are incapable or too stupid to get the message,” Arkie Koehl, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, said.

The non-profit hopes Maui’s legislation will inspire lawmakers on Oahu to propose similar measures. This bill will be heard by the full council on Thursday.

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