Accidents involving drunk drivers -
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
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 :
Accident Lawyer Hawaii now for a free evaluation of your case.
Claim Information for Drunk Driver/ Dramshop Claims
Generally Hawaii law recognizes claims against drunk
drivers for the damages they cause.
The Hawaii courts sometimes even impose
liability on the sellers of liquor 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).
Intoxicated adult drivers who injure themselves do not have
a claim against those who provide them with liquor which is
recognized by the Hawaii courts at this time. 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 is precluded from a suing
commercial liquor supplier]. However, it is possible that
the Hawaii Supreme Court is in the process of revisiting
Hawaii Supreme Court has found that a store operator may
be held responsible to innocent third parties injured as
a result of an illegal sale 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 his injuries
if they commit "affirmative acts" which increase
the risk or the severity of the injury to the intoxicated
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.
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.
See, State v. Vasquez