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Hawaii Public Traffic Records

What are Hawaii Public Traffic Records?

In Hawaii, public traffic records (also referred to as driver history records, traffic court reports, and traffic abstracts) contain traffic-related information on motorists licensed or residing within the state. This includes traffic violations, traffic convictions, collisions, license suspensions, etc.

Public traffic records in Hawaii are generated and compiled by the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HIDOT) and the traffic violation bureaus of the district courts. The courts are also responsible for keeping these records and providing them to the public upon a written or oral request.

Are Traffic Records Public in Hawaii?

Yes, traffic records are publicly accessible in Hawaii under the Freedom of Information Act. This act guarantees that such records are open to the public for inspection and copying during the district courts' standard business hours. However, federal and state laws may prohibit the disclosure of a record.

An excellent case in point is the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), a federal legislature codified at 18 USC § 2721, et. seq. This law restricts access to a driver's residential address, social security number, telephone number, medical or disability data, and other personally identifiable information (PII) that can put a driver's privacy or confidentiality at risk.

The State of Hawaii incorporates the DPPA, as evidenced in the Hawaii Department of Transportation's Privacy Policy Statement and Rule 9 of the Hawaii Court Record Rules (HCRR). As a result, only parties with a legitimate purpose or the approval of a record's owner can access such personal data.

What do Hawaii Traffic Records Contain?

Hawaii traffic records often contain the following information:

  • A driver's information (e.g., date of birth, mailing address)
  • Driver's license information (including the license number and status)
  • Traffic collisions
  • Driver's license restrictions (suspensions, revocations)
  • Traffic violations and convictions

Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Hawaii?

Yes, a citation goes on a person's record in Hawaii. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 291A-1 defines a citation as any ticket, summons, or other document issued by law enforcement for the violation of traffic laws, ordinances, or regulations.

Since a citation pertains to a traffic offense, it can appear on an offender's traffic record, even when a court did not convict them. However, citations that go on such records are usually "moving violations" (traffic offenses arising from the operation of a motor vehicle).

A citation can also appear on someone's criminal record if the underlying offense is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. For example, fleeing an accident scene (hit and run), driving without a valid license, racing on public highways, fleeing or attempting to evade a police officer, and reckless driving.

Types of Traffic Citations in Hawaii

Traffic citations (also called traffic tickets) are issued to any driver that commits a traffic offense. Traffic offenses in Hawaii can either be civil traffic infractions or traffic crimes.

Civil Traffic Infractions: Hawaii regards most traffic offenses as civil infractions. Per state law, individuals commit a civil traffic infraction when they violate a regulation, statute, or ordinance about traffic movement and control. The punishment does not include incarceration.

Typically, anyone cited for a civil traffic infraction in Hawaii can resolve their case without court. Suppose an individual voluntarily pleads to an infraction or is found guilty at a trial. In that case, the most they can be subject to is a monetary assessment (fines, costs, fees, surcharges), compulsory participation in a driving course or another driver education program, or community service.

Examples of civil traffic infractions in Hawaii include running a red light, driving with no seat belt, parking close to a fire hydrant, equipment violations (e.g., illegally tinted windows), etc.

Traffic Crimes: A traffic crime is a violation of a law, ordinance, or rule about traffic movement and control for which an offender may be sentenced to at least 30 days in prison. For example, reckless driving, driving without a valid license and driving under the influence.

Unlike persons cited for a civil traffic infraction, an individual (the defendant) charged with a traffic crime in Hawaii must appear in court on the date and time specified on their citation or on the receipt issued to them after posting bail. Failing to appear as instructed can lead a judge to issue a bench warrant for the defendant's arrest.

The prison sentence imposed for a traffic crime depends on its classification:

  • Petty misdemeanors: A maximum prison term of 30 days.
  • Misdemeanors. A maximum prison term of one year.
  • Felonies: A minimum prison term of one year.

Hawaii Traffic Citation Lookup

Anyone who wishes to look up a traffic citation issued in Hawaii can navigate to the eTraffic Hawaii portal offered by the state judicial branch. E-Traffic Hawaii is a statewide online system used by offenders to search and pay for their traffic citations remotely (i.e., without making a court appearance). Notably, the system can only be utilized by people who want to look up citations that do not mandate a court appearance.

For persons whose citations require a court appearance, it is best to contact or visit the district court having jurisdiction over a traffic infraction or violation for citation information. The locations and contact numbers of the Hawaii district courts can be obtained from the state judiciary's Court Locations and Addresses page.

How to Lookup my Hawaii Traffic Records

In Hawaii, members of the public can obtain three types of traffic records from the district courts: driving history records, certified traffic abstracts, and traffic court reports (complete abstracts).

A driving history record contains a motorist's license information and traffic history. This includes:

  • A driver's full name, mailing address, and date of birth
  • License class, endorsements, and restrictions
  • License status, issue date, and expiry date
  • Moving traffic violations, accidents, suspensions, revocations, and failures to appear.

Generally, the record will show all information reported within the previous three years of an inquiry and active suspensions/revocations over five years old.

A certified traffic abstract, on the other hand, shows information that pertains more to the operation of a vehicle. It does not display equipment and parking violations. As such, it is often called an abbreviated abstract. One can expect to find the following on the record:

  • Any driver's license revocation
  • All alleged moving violations
  • All convictions for moving violations

Finally, a traffic court report contains all the information on a certified traffic abstract plus parking and equipment violations.

Requestors may mail or hand-deliver a written request to a district court to look up or obtain any of the above records in Hawaii.

Hawaii traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic record.

Driving History Records

An individual who wishes to look up or obtain their driving history record in person can walk into district court with a completed Request for Hawaii Driver History Record Form and proof of identification during the court's regular working hours. Acceptable proof of identification includes:

  • State ID card
  • Military ID card
  • Valid driver's license
  • Passport

To order the record by mail, the requester must send the request form (which must be notarized to verify the requester's identity) and a self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelope) to a district court. A district court's mailing address can be found on the form or retrieved from the state judicial branch's District Court Contact Information page.

Requesters should note the following:

  • Both in-person and mail requests are subject to a non-refundable fee of $9.
  • In-person requesters can obtain their records immediately, but mail requesters must wait 10 days.
  • Records ordered by mail are payable only by money order or cashier's check made out to the "District Court."

Traffic Abstracts

To order a certified traffic abstract in person, interested parties can visit any district court and provide the following information:

  • The record subject's full name
  • Date of birth
  • Driver's license number

If preferring to obtain the record by mail, the requester should send a notarized, written request (containing the record subject's full name, date of birth, and driver's license number) plus a self-addressed stamped envelope to the district court in their circuit.

The following should be noted:

  • A traffic abstract costs $20, regardless of the method (mail or in-person) used to order the record.
  • A requester will require a release form to obtain the abstract of a juvenile's record.
  • Personal checks are not accepted for mail requests. The acceptable forms of payment are money orders and cashier's checks.

Traffic Court Reports

Unlike traffic abstracts and driving history records, traffic court reports can only be ordered in person by visiting any district court with a valid ID. Each copy costs $1 for the first page and 50 cents for each additional page.

Hawaii Traffic Violations

A traffic violation in Hawaii is any infraction of the state's traffic laws. These violations can range from minor offenses like speeding or running a red light to more serious offenses, such as DUI or hit and run. Depending on the severity of the offense, a traffic violation can result in a warning, a ticket, or even arrest.

The most common traffic violations in Hawaii are speeding, running a red light, and failure to yield. These violations can result in a warning, a ticket, or points on the offender's driver's license. More serious offenses, such as DUI or hit and run, can result in arrest and jail time.

Persons cited for a traffic violation in Hawaii will have to appear in court. The court will determine whether they are guilty of the offense and, if so, what punishment they will face. Penalties for traffic violations can range from a simple fine to jail time.

If convicted of a traffic violation, offenders will have to pay a fine and may have points added to their driver's license. Points on the offender's license can lead to higher insurance rates and may eventually result in their license being suspended.

Hawaii License Plate Lookup

A piece of essential information on a Hawaii traffic record is the vehicle's license plate number. This is because the license plate can be used to identify the registered owner of the vehicle. Interested persons can look up Hawaii license plates either through the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DMV) or through a private company specializing in Hawaii license plate lookup.

The DMV offers the Hawaii license plate lookup service that allows interested persons search for the owner of a vehicle by its license plate number. This service is only available to authorized users, such as law enforcement agencies and governmental organizations. If you are not an authorized user, you can still obtain general information about a vehicle's registration status and its most recent registration renewal date.

Private companies that offer license plate lookup services in Hawaii typically access a more comprehensive range of information than the DMV. They purchase data from the DMV and other sources, such as insurance companies and car dealerships. As a result, they can often provide detailed information about a vehicle's history, including its registered owner, previous owners, and any accidents or tickets that it has been involved in.

How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Hawaii

The public can view traffic case records for free on public access terminals located in most courthouses across Hawaii. A party to a traffic case or another interested party can also use eCourt Kokua, an online case management system maintained by the Hawaii judicial branch, to view case records at no charge.

It is worth noting that the records examined through eCourt Kokua are obtained from official case records, but they are not complete case records. For those, it is necessary to visit a district courthouse.

How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Hawaii

In Hawaii, traffic offenses have different timelines to remain on public records. This duration is often determined by the offense and its severity. However, the state's Traffic Violations Bureau usually retains traffic offenses on public records for at least 10 years. Additionally, for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders, certain offenses (typically severe violations) may be reported for 55 years.

How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Hawaii

Traffic records are publicly accessible in Hawaii. As a result, these records cannot only be found or obtained through government agencies and online repositories that are available to the public but they can also be accessed through third-party public sites.

Generally, persons who wish to remove their traffic records from public websites permanently must obtain an expungement or sealing order from the applicable government agency: the courts if seeking a sealing order or the Attorney General's Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center if seeking an expungement.

It should be noted that an expungement in Hawaii only affects arrest records while sealing deals more with court records and traffic abstracts. Either way, the effect of any procedure (sealing or expungement) is that a petitioner's traffic records will become confidential to the public. As such, if a record was previously available on a public site, the owner can send the expungement certificate or sealing order to the site's administrator.

One other way to remove a traffic record from a public website in Hawaii is to opt-out of the site. However, this pertains to public websites run by private parties, not sites managed by government entities. For websites that offer opt-out tools, a record owner can complete a site's removal process to take down their record. The downside, however, is that it may be temporary: a record may reappear when new information exists about the owner, as opting out does not delete a record from its official custodian's database. Ultimately, individuals may have to complete the opt-out process several times or outsource the task of keeping their records off the internet.

Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Hawaii?

Yes, motoring offenses can affect criminal records in Hawaii. However, this depends on whether an offense is a "civil traffic infraction" or "traffic crime" under the Hawaii statutes. Infractions have no bearing on a person's criminal record, as the state does not regard such offenses as crimes. However, traffic crimes lead to criminal charges, which may appear on a criminal record upon an individual's arrest or conviction.