STAND. COM. REP. NO. 2957
President of the Senate
State of Hawaii
The purpose and intent of this measure is to authorize manslaughter prosecutions for a person who causes the death of another person, having demonstrated wilful and wanton disregard of the need to exercise reasonable care, which was likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to one or more persons, property, or both.
Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Kaua‘i; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local Union Number 625; Hawaii Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving; Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association Local #630, AFL-CIO; DK Movement; Hawaii Construction Alliance; and seventeen individuals. Your Committee received testimony in opposition to this measure from the Office of the Public Defender. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of the Attorney General.
Your Committee finds that under existing law the offense of manslaughter, a class A felony, includes a person who recklessly causes the death of another person, and the offense of negligent homicide, a class B felony, includes a person who causes the death of another person by the operation of a vehicle in a negligent manner while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Therefore, when a drunk driver causes the death of another, the offender may be charged under either offense, depending on the circumstances surrounding the event. Your Committee finds that drunk driving is preventable and wilfully drinking to levels of intoxication above the legal limit and driving may be inherently reckless. Your Committee finds that clarity is needed in the penal code to inform prosecutors, judges, and offenders of what circumstances warrant the more serious charge of manslaughter.
Your Committee also finds that the proposed language of this measure is ambiguous because wilful and wanton are not defined nor are they used in the Hawaii penal code. Your Committee thus believes this measure should explicitly define certain acts of drunk driving as manslaughter to ensure that offenders who cause the death of another person by recklessly driving while above the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration are charged with the more serious offense of manslaughter. Your Committee hopes that this measure will help to deter possible offenders and save innocent lives.
Accordingly, your Committee has amended this measure by:
(1) Deleting language that would have provided that the offense of manslaughter includes a person who causes the death of another person, having demonstrated wilful and wanton disregard of the need to exercise reasonable care, which was likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to one or more persons, property, or both;
(2) Inserting language that provides that the offense of manslaughter includes a person who causes the death of another person by recklessly operating a motor vehicle with .08 or more grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath or .08 or more grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters or cubic centimeters of blood; and
(3) Amending section 1 to reflect its amended purpose.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Judiciary that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2420, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 2420, S.D. 1, and be placed on the calendar for Third Reading.
KARL RHOADS, Chair