LIHUE — An Atooi nation member pleaded no contest to his fifth and sixth charges of driving without a license and was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Monday in 5th Circuit Court.
Adam Kekoa Kaai, 37, of Kapaa, initially represented himself in the matter and then chose court appointed counsel as the new charges were filed. On Monday, Kaai said he would comply with the process of becoming duly licensed by the state in order to drive to work and back because he has new priorities.
“I just care about my daughter, and I want to do what is right for her,” Kaai said.
A third case was dismissed as part of the agreement.
“We very much respect everyone’s right to political self-determination and cultural identity, but there are very good safety reasons for requiring the drivers on our roadways to have driver licenses,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe said she respected Kaai’s beliefs and understood he and others are passionate about their rights and feel an Attooi license, not a state-issued one, should be adequate to drive on Kauai.
At the same time, Watanabe said she has a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution and laws of Hawaii.
“I took an oath to that,” Watanabe said.
Watanabe fined Kaai $500 in one of the cases but waived the fine in the second based on the defendant’s intention to go through the process to become licensed to drive by the state.
County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Tumbaga said Kaai has four prior driving without a license convictions in 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2013. He also has three prior convictions for driving after revocation and not having insurance in 2000, 2001 and 2013.
Court-appointed attorney Shauna Lee Cahill asked the court to abide by the plea agreements and sentence Kaai to concurrent terms of up to 30 days.
She asked the court to waive fines to make it possible for Kaai to pursue a state driver’s license.
The Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi identifies itself as the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the seat of indigenous nations that comprise the Royal Pacific Union, and the United Nations of Turtle Islands of Polynesia.
The Atooi issue driver’s licenses as part of efforts to assert their rights under state, federal and international laws.
The Atooi assert that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the citizens of Atooi and the right to their nation, to identification cards, and to form legal and political institutions.