involving distracted driving and drunk drivers
Claim Information for Distracted Drivers / Drunk Drivers / Dramshop Claims
Generally Hawaii law recognizes claims against
distracted and/or drunk
drivers for the damages they cause. So third parties who
are injured as a result of a distracted driver or an
impaired driver almost always have the opportunity to
assert claims for their losses. There are even certain exceptions
to the tort threshold requirements for bringing claims in Hawaii
which may apply in such cases.
Distracted or intoxicated adult drivers who injure themselves do
generally have claims for the own injuries or loss. The Hawaii
courts, for example, do not generally recognize a claim by an intoxicated
driver against a bar or a social host who provides them with liquor.
Even the claims of intoxicated minor drivers who injure themselves are generally
not recognized by the Hawaii courts at this time - Winters
v. Silver Fox Bar, 71 Haw. 524, 797 P.2d 51 (1990) A minor
who sustains injury due to his or her own voluntary intoxication
is not within class of persons protected by statute prohibiting
sale of liquor to minors, and thus has been found to be precluded from a suing
commercial liquor supplier. However, it is possible that
the Hawaii Supreme Court will soon revisit this issue.
Although the Hawaii courts generally do not recognize claims by
the drivers themselves against a commercial establishment that sells
them liquor while intoxicated, in some situations the courts will impose
liability on the sellers of liquor in favor of innocent third parties for the damages
that drunk drivers cause (dramshop liability). Dram shop liability
starts with a bar or liquor store selling alcoholic beverage
to a person who is already under the influence of alcohol at the
time. If that person thereafter injures a third party, the
Hawaii courts may impose liability on the commercial seller
of the liquor for the damages caused. The
Hawaii Supreme Court first recognized dram shop liability
for liquor sales by commercial establishments in Ono v.
Applegate, 62 Haw. 131, 612 P.2d 533 (1980).
The Hawaii Supreme Court has also found that a store operator may
be held responsible to innocent third parties injured as
a result of an illegal sale of alcohol to a minor even though the injuries
were caused by an intoxicated minor other than the minor
who bought liquor, if such injury was a reasonably foreseeable
consequence of an illegal sale. Reyes v. Kuboyama, 76 Haw.
137, 870 P.2d 1281 (1994) At present, however, it appears
that only third parties who are injured by a drunk person's
conduct are clearly protected by Hawaii's dram shop doctrine.
Affirmative Acts involved in Drunk Driver/ Dramshop Claims
Certain persons (including taverns, bars and liquor stores)
may become liable to an intoxicated person for injuries to
that person if they commit "affirmative acts" which increase
the risk or the severity of the injury to the intoxicated
Although "aggressive selling" has been
found not to constitute such an "affirmative act",
it is probable that conduct such as transporting the person
to a dangerous and busy intersection and leaving them there
unattended would constitute such an affirmative act. See,
Feliciano v. Waikiki Deep Water, Inc., 69 Haw. 605, 752
P.2d 1076 (1988).
Social Hosts involved in Drunk Driver/ Dramshop Claims
The social host who throws a party and whose guest causes
an accident after leaving probably does not have liability under
Hawaii law for damages caused. Only commercial establishments
(including taverns, bars and liquor stores) are liable
under the present case law. It is yet to be determined,
however, whether or not employers will be found liable for
"Pau Hana" party drinkers on company premises
or for damages caused by intoxicated persons
leaving the employer's premises
after parties or celebrations.
Deadlines to File Drunk Driver / Dramshop Claims
The deadline for most drunk driver/ dramshop claims
in Hawaii is two (2) years from the date of the injury.
It should be noted, however, that there are exceptions
to this rule- for example, claims
against the City and County of Honolulu and
the various other Counties must be filed with the appropriate agency
within six (6) months of the date of the accident.
For those claims which arise out of car accidents, the deadlines
for motor vehicle accident related claims may apply to extend certain
portions of such claims (see motor vehicle section of this
To be wise it is recommended that you immediately contact an attorney
after an accident giving rise to injuries occurs- please do not
hesitate to :
Criminal Penalties in Hawaii for Drunk Drivers
Those who insist on driving while under the influence
should be aware that the Hawaii courts have taken such conduct
very seriously in determining criminal penalties for negligent
homicide. In one recent case, State v. Vasquez, the Hawaii
Supreme Court upheld a 20 year sentence on a man who was drunk
when he collided in an intersection with another driver who
died as a result of the crash. The intersection was controlled by
traffic lights and the drunk driver claimed that he had the green light
at the time of the accident. The trial court rejected this self-serving
testimony - even though there were no witnesses to the accident.
Accident Lawyer Hawaii now for a free evaluation of your
distracted driving, drunk driving or dramshop case.