December 31, 2008

Creating a felony by County ordinance?

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics,Neighbor Island Politics — Doug @ 9:06 am

I am curious about this West Hawaii Today article about road rage. I don’t recall this ever being done, and I wonder if it can be done at the County level.

Council Chairman J Yoshimoto, Hilo, said Monday he plans to work with the Police Department to create an ordinance that would possibly make road rage a felony offense.

He said he has heard many stories from residents about some motorists becoming enraged on the highway and intimidating other drivers that prompted him to pursue additional penalties for those guilty of such infractions.

Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna — who will retire on Wednesday — said he recently spoke briefly with Yoshimoto about the subject.

Mahuna said there is a state law that covers aggressive driving [Really? I could not find one.], which is considered a misdemeanor, but nothing on the books that specifies “road rage.”

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the Revised Ordinances of Hawaii County online. Is there such a thing? [META: Is there a County with a more amateurish web presence?! Sheesh.] However, the Honolulu ROs are here, and the relevant Chapter for Honolulu does not spell out specific offenses and penalties (beyond describing where certain speed limits are in effect). Basically, I am under the impression that there is no County-level penal code—in any County. This would make even more sense for felonies, which are punished by imprisonment of more than a year, since the Counties do not have their own prisons, only jails.

The HRS is somewhat schizophrenic on this matter. First it says the Counties can write “rules of the road” beyond the HRS, but then the next section of the HRS delineates exactly what powers are granted to the Counties.

Can Hawaii County create a felony by ordinance? I dunno.

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