Citations or traffic tickets are issued in the State of Hawaii for various violations of traffic law. Citations generally indicate the statute or code number of the violation, and explain how and when to pay the fine or respond to the ticket. You must respond to a citation, usually by paying a fine or appearing in court, or else a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your driving license may be suspended.
TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
Most traffic tickets in Hawaii are issued for what either civil infractions or traffic crimes.
Examples of civil infractions are:
- Running a stop sign
- Driving without a seat belt
- Not using turn signals
- Parking in a prohibited zone
- Having an expired safety check sticker
Examples of traffic crimes are:
- Driving without a license
- Reckless driving
- DUI (except for the first offense)
- Driving without vehicle insurance
MOVING VS. NON-MOVING VIOLATIONS
Violations are also classified by whether or not the vehicle was in motion at the type of the incident, and traffic tickets may therefore be for either moving or non-moving violations. Examples of moving violations include:
- Speeding or driving below the minimum speed
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Driving without a seat belt
- Drunk driving (DUI and DWI)
Non-Moving violations include:
- Parking in a handicapped zone or other illegal parking
- Driving with an invalid vehicle registration
- Having expired or missing license plates
- Leaving a vehicle unattended and running
You will have to pay the total amount stated on the ticket within 21 days of its receipt. Fines for a criminal infraction can exceed thousands of dollars.
A "stopper" may also be put on your vehicle record if you fail to pay the fine for parking ticket. You will not be able to renew your registration till the amount is paid. A "stopper" can also be put on your driving license record for up to a year if you do not pay the fine for a civil moving or equipment traffic infraction within 30 days. You will not be able to renew your license or obtain another one. You also stand chance of your license being revoked.
YOUR OPTIONS WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CITATION
Many citations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by paying the ticket directly. The citation will indicate how and by what date to pay the fine. If you fail to appear in court you may be issued an arrest warrant. Payments can be made online or by calling (800) 679-5949 and following the automated instructions. Keep your credit card handy. You can also pay in person by visiting the concerned district courts or by mail - return the self addressed envelope you received with your ticket with a check or money order for the full amount.
You can also plead not guilty by going to court and explaining your version of events in order to lessen the fine. A request to do this must be submitted by mail or in person, within the 21 day period after receipt of your ticket. However, once the court has reached a verdict you cannot appeal against it.
If you wish to dispute the citation, you must inform the court in person or by mail and appear in court personally on the scheduled date, and enter a "not guilty" plea. While you may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, a trial will be scheduled if no agreement is reached. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury, and most people prefer to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to defend them in court. You will have 30 days to appeal the verdict, if you wish to do so.
You cannot have a trial by jury for a civil infraction.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING FOUND GUILTY
When you pay a ticket directly, you are essentially pleading guilty to a traffic offense, which carries the same consequences as being found guilty of the violation in court. Motorists who either plead guilty directly or are found guilty of an offense should be aware of the following possible consequences:
- Certain traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are automatically reported to the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Hawaii routinely provides information concerning traffic ticket convictions to other states.
- Hawaii does not follow a point system to track violations and their corresponding penalties. For more information, see our Point System section.
- Traffic violations in Hawaii can mean that drivers are often subject to higher car insurance premiums.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKET CONVICTIONS
One of the best ways to reduce the negative implications of traffic violations is to drive safely and not commit any additional offenses. Your driving record may eventually be cleared if you remain free of any additional violations. Smart drivers often choose to take a defensive driving course or traffic school course in order to clear their driving record more quickly.
Taking a defensive driving course can also help lower the car insurance premiums of drivers whose rates increased following one or more traffic ticket convictions. Some drivers prefer to obtain a new quote for car insurance following a traffic ticket conviction, since often more competitive rates and coverage may be available.