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Honolulu police announced today they’re on the lookout for drunk drivers, especially with the Fourth of July holiday coming up.
This week alone, police made dozens of DUI arrests, including two habitual DUI arrests. The most recent one happened this morning.
Habitual DUI is a class C felony. But even with prison terms, these drunk drivers apparently aren’t getting the message.
James Ilalio isn’t supposed to be driving.
“His license had been revoked for life since 2004,” Deputy Prosecutor Adrian Dhakhwa said.
But on Tuesday, Ilalio was caught driving drunk again — his 4th habitual DUI arrest.
“To be a habitual DUI offender you have to have at least three priors within a 10 year window,” Dhakhwa said.
Ilalio spent five years in prison for his last habitual DUI conviction in 2005.
Prosecutors had pushed for an extended term — especially since that was the 7th time he got arrested for drunk driving.
“We thought 10 years would be most appropriate sentence given the circumstance to protect the public, but ultimately the court went with a five year prison term,” Dhakhwa said.
And just this morning, Donald Couch was also arrested for habitual DUI, for the third time.
He shouldn’t have been on the road either. His driver’s license was revoked in 2008.
“I think the laws need to really toughen up, and tighten up,” MADD Hawaii Executive Director Abigail Nickell said.
Two habitual DUI arrests in just four days.
“Horrified is my initial reaction. I think it’s a matter of time before these people are going to injure themselves or somebody in the community,” Nickell said.
And Ilalio and Couch aren’t the only ones who can’t stay out of trouble.
Last year, Honolulu police arrested 44 drivers for habitual DUI.
And so far this year, there have been 27 habitual DUI arrests, and we’re only halfway through the year.
“Unfortunately one case is one case too many,” Dhakhwa said.
Police agree. They plan to set up DUI checkpoints at unannounced times and locations through the end of August, as part of HPD’s ongoing effort to reduce traffic injuries and deaths.
“Drunk driving is a huge problem in Hawaii. We’re actually the worst in the country in terms of drunk driving fatalities,” Nickell.
So far this year, 34 people have died on Oahu’s roads. And alcohol, speed, and or/drugs were factors in 12 of those crashes.
“Whether it’s a first offense or a habitual offense, these guys are a danger to the public and it’s not fair to the innocent people on the road,” Dhakhwa.
Police also want to remind the public that if you’re caught selling or giving alcohol to anyone under 21, you can get arrested and face up to a year in jail.