If you're thinking of driving around the Hawaiian islands without valid auto insurance coverage, think again. The state has strict penalties for operating a motor vehicle without adequate coverage that include fines, community service, license and registration suspension, vehicle impounding and even jail time. The potential cost for driving without insurance outweighs the cost of the policy that the law requires.
Hawaii revised statute §431:10C-117 (a)(2)(B) states that the first offense for driving without insurance will cost you $500, and each subsequent offense within five years of a previous one will cost a minimum of $1,500. The Tipon Law Firm, based in Honolulu, states that even first offenses can often cost you more than $1,000 and sometimes much more. At a judge's discretion, you may receive a community service sentence in lieu of the fines, but you or your lawyer must request this, and it is not guaranteed.
Understandably, your primary concern may be how to pay the hefty fine involved with this type of citation, but the fine is not the end of your problems. Hawaii law states that the court shall impose penalties in addition to the fine. Your driver's license may be suspended for a minimum of three months if it is your first conviction and one year for subsequent violations. Alternatively, the court may demand that you keep a nonrefundable auto insurance policy in force for six months.
Impounding the Vehicle
If you are caught without insurance more than once in a five-year period, Hawaii law assesses additional penalties. The vehicle's registration may be suspended, and you may have to forfeit its license plates for the period of suspension. If this happens, the vehicle cannot be used by anyone, even someone with a valid license. Additionally, the court may impound the vehicle itself and charge you for all towing and storage fees involved. If you cannot pay these costs, the court may sell your vehicle without your involvement.
Hawaii gets tough with repeat offenders. At a judge's discretion, you may face every penalty the law allows and still have to go to jail. Hawaii law mandates that prison sentences for driving without insurance must be limited to 30 days or less. You must be convicted of the same offense more than once within a five-year period for a judge to consider jail time. Contact an insurance agent to avoid this unnecessary trip to prison.