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Distracted & Drunk Driver Accident Attorney Hawaii - Honolulu Lawyer

Honolulu Hawaii Auto Accident Attorney Bill Lawson

Car Accident Lawyer Hawaii

Accidents 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 person. 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 web-site). 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.

Contact Car Accident Lawyer Hawaii now for a free evaluation of your distracted driving, drunk driving or dramshop case.




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Car Accident Attorney Hawaii


William H. Lawson, Esq. and
Amy L. Woodward, Esq.

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1188 Bishop St. Suite 2902
Honolulu, HI 96813

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(808) 524-5300


Pearl City, Aiea and Waipahu:
(808) 671-7600

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Recent Personal Injury and Car Accident News


Recently a settlement of $140 million was obtained in Texas for a severely injured 39-year-old motor vehicle driver who was rendered quadriplegic when his car was struck by an 18-wheeler in 2017. The truck driver had been involved in multiple prior crashes. Violations of state and federal regulations for trucking companies and drivers were also in play. The roads of Hawaii have many similar dangers. See, $140M settlement reached in 2017 Texas crash.




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Drunk Driver Accident Hawaii

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