In Your Corner: Underage drinking jeopardizes driver’s permits and licenses

It seems that the warnings from parents, police programs, coaches, teachers and others have not caused Hawai‘i youth to stop drinking.

They can’t see or feel the brain cells that are destroyed by drinking. They don’t know that the effects can accumulate over years or that youth are damaged by alcohol consumption much more than adults, as teens’ brain and neural systems are still developing. They don’t know that drinking too much can actually cause death because the system slows down so much that breathing stops. They don’t know that it takes roughly half as much alcohol to get a 125-pound teen intoxicated as his 250-pound uncle.

For teens’ protection, an additional section to the law governing liquor handling and consumption, or prohibitions, has been added regarding drinking and the ability to get a driver’s license.

First, we’ll go over the existing law: Hawai‘i Revised Statute 281-101.5.

• Any adult who provides or purchases liquor for consumption or use by a person under 21 (a minor) shall be guilty of prohibitions.

• No minor shall consume or purchase liquor and no minor shall consume or have liquor in his/her possession in any public place, or in any motor vehicle on a public highway. This excludes minors delivering alcohol for their work, participating in religious ceremonies requiring it, or acting for law enforcement or the department of health in controlled activities.

• No minor shall falsify any identification or use any false identification or identification of another person or of a fictitious person for the purpose of buying or attempting to buy liquor or for the purpose of obtaining employment to sell or serve liquor on licensed premises.

• Any person under age 18 who violates this section shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the family court. Any person between the ages of 18 and 21 who violates the above two sections shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

Now pay attention to the following part regarding driver’s licenses. Being guilty of prohibitions doesn’t mean that you’ve necessarily been caught drinking and driving. It may mean that alcohol is in your possession publicly. I’ve seen cases that involved a respondent who was told just to “hold” the alcohol for a friend, who vanished. The friend didn’t get busted for prohibitions, but the one holding the alcohol did.

I urge youth not to hold alcohol or pot for a friend. You can be the one detained for either.

Violations for people under 21 can result in suspension of their driver’s license as follows:

• For licensed drivers, the driver’s license shall be suspended for no less than 180 days with exceptions to allow — at the discretion of the sentencing court — driving to and from school, school-sponsored activities and employment.

• For persons with a provisional license, their license will be suspended for no less than 180 days with the above exceptions.

• For persons with an instruction permit, the instruction permit shall be suspended for not less than 180 days with exceptions for school or employment

• For persons not licensed to drive, eligibility to obtain a driver’s license, provisional license or instruction permit shall be suspended until the age of 17 or for 180 days, at the discretion of the court.

I hope that you are now aware of what the consequences of drinking or even just having alcohol in your possession. Is it worth it?

Celebrate the holidays and have fun. Spiced cider, sodas and eggnog can taste great without alcohol. Get high on the goodness and love around you, and if there isn’t any, then make some! What we all really need is love, and here is a quick review of the five ways that research has shown that people accept love. If one doesn’t work, try another. Most of them cost only time.

• Acts of Service: It just might be worth more to your parents to baby-sit your siblings or cook a candle-lit dinner for them, than buying a present. Tutu might like the car washed or house cleaned.

• Quality Time: Everyone is so busy these days. How about making a card that says, “I want to spend ___ hours with you, doing the activity of your choice.”

• Affection: Research has actually shown that babies don’t grow well without being cuddled and loved. Inside every big person is a little child who still loves to be hugged, or maybe have a shoulder massage, or hands held, or get sweet kisses.

• Affirmations: Saying kind or loving things to another and giving them compliments says that you’ve noticed them and they matter to you. Feels good!

• Gifts: Yes, we like to get gifts, especially when someone noticed what we needed or wanted to make our lives easier, brighter, prettier by giving us something. The added benefit is that whenever the person sees the gift, they will remember you.

Be safe, and help others be safe, too. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And remember that you have an unlimited supply of what the world really needs: love.

• Annaleah Atkinson is the Teen Court manager for Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i. She can be reached at, or Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i Inc., 2959 Umi St., Lihu‘e, HI 96766. Attorney Sara Silverman contributed information for this column.


Several adults have “stepped into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support in the boxing ring of life! They are Catherine Stovall, community response specialist, county of Kaua‘i; Edmund Acoba, public defender; Craig DeCosta, county prosecuting attorney; officer Paul Applegate, Kaua‘i Police Department; Bill Arakaki, superintendent of schools; Jill Yoshimatsu, director of the DOE Mokihana program; and Annaleah Atkinson, Teen Court manager for Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i.

If you have something to share with Kaua‘i teens, or need to ask a question, contact Annaleah with the information above and she will field it to the person who can best help with the answer.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.