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Hawaii Traffic Laws

Whether you drive for transportation or recreation, you're responsible for following state and local traffic laws. You may need to know the traffic regulations as a resident or tourist in Hawaii.

Stay safe, prevent accidents, and avoid traffic tickets. Learn about your responsibilities and rights as a driver per Hawaii's Statewide Traffic Code.

The Rules of the Road in Hawaii

Title 17 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes focuses on motor vehicles and traffic. Find select driving rules for popular topics in the chart below. You can also find information from the Hawaii Department of Transportation resources, such as the driver's manual.

Drinking and driving violations Use of intoxicants while operating a vehicle (HRS Chapter 291-E)
Driving without a license/with a suspended license Licensing (HRS section 286-102)
Driving without insurance/with insufficient insurance Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act (HRS Chapter 287)
Driving without registration/with expired registration Registration of vehicles (HRS section 286-41)
Illegal U-turn Turning so as to proceed in the opposite direction (HRS section 291C-82)
Leaving the scene of an accident/hit-and-run Accidents and accident reports (HRS sections 291C-11 to 291C-15)
Mechanical violations Street rod vehicle requirements (HRS section 286-26.5)
Reckless driving Reckless driving of vehicle (HRS section 291-2)
Running a red light/stop sign Obedience to and required traffic control devices (HRS section 291C-31)
Seat belt/child restraint violations

Mandatory use of seat belts (HRS section 291-11.6) 

Child passenger restraints (HRS section 291-11.5)

Speeding

Speed restrictions; basic rule (HRS section 291C-101) 

Noncompliance with speed limit prohibited (HRS section 291C-102)

Unlawful vehicle modifications Street rod vehicle requirements (HRS section 286-26.5)

Unique Hawaii Traffic Rules

Every state has slightly different driving laws. The details matter if you get a traffic ticket.

Here are a few quick rules to know in Hawaii:

  • You can't use a handheld mobile electronic device while driving. There are exceptions when you call 911 or fully stop away from regular traffic, such as pulling over on the side of the road (HRS § 291C-137). You can't use your phone at a red light.
  • Stay out of the left lane while driving in most cases. Overtaking vehicles can use the left lane to pass, but they must return to the center or right traffic lane again. Yield the right of way and avoid speeding up to let the vehicle enter the right lane (HRS § 291C-43).
  • Some roads have minimum speed limits. Conditions like heavy rain or rush-hour traffic call for even slower speeds than the minimum. Drive at a reasonable speed for safety without impeding the flow of traffic.
  • Motorcycles and mopeds can't share a lane side by side (HRS § 291C-153 and HRS § 291C-196). Only ride single-file, even if you're part of a riding group.
  • Slow down when approaching crosswalks to respect pedestrians' right of way, especially near tourism areas.

Some areas of Hawaii may have special ordinances for parking, bike lanes, and more. Watch for traffic signs, which can alert you to some of these rules.

Military Service Members

Hawaii draws many new residents and visitors due to its military bases, particularly in Oahu. The state has a few special rules to accommodate members of the U.S. armed forces.

You can use your valid driver's license from another state or apply for a Hawaii license. You can also keep your vehicle registration in your home state until you return.

Eligible service members on active duty may claim a motor vehicle tax exemption. But, any vehicles you plan to drive in Hawaii must still pass the state's safety inspection.

Traffic Offenses in Hawaii

If law enforcement cites you for breaking the law, the penalties vary. Fines, jail time, and vehicle forfeiture (loss of your vehicle) are possible consequences.

All traffic infractions will stay on your driving record, also known as a traffic abstract. Insurance companies may use this record to quote your auto insurance rates. Hawaii district courts also use a motorist's record to issue a license suspension.

No matter how many prior infractions you have, some offenses can lead to automatic license suspension. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a common offense that risks driving privileges in Hawaii.

Tickets for Out-Of-State Drivers

If you are visiting Hawaii from the mainland, a traffic violation can affect your driving record in other states. Most states, including Hawaii, share traffic records through the national Driver License Compact or the Nonresident Violator Compact.

For example, you could get driver's license points in your home state after speeding in Honolulu — even though Hawaii no longer uses a point system. A license suspension in Hawaii will also carry over to your home state. Check your home state's laws for more details about license penalties.

Find an Experienced Lawyer in Hawaii

If a police officer recently pulled you over, consider your options carefully. A Hawaii traffic law attorney can help you fight a ticket or DUI.

You may need legal guidance after a car accident. A skilled personal injury lawyer may help if another driver hurt you in the crash.

 

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