S.B. NO.



S.D. 1
















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created great challenges to global health, economy, and way of life.  The governor and county mayors have had to exercise their emergency powers under chapter 127A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to impose rules aimed to control the spread of COVID-19.  The enforcement of these rules is critical to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of the community, manage medical resources, and restart the economy.  To allow for more meaningful and effective enforcement of emergency orders, the governor and mayors need flexibility to promulgate a range of lesser penalties for emergency rules.

     Accordingly, the purposes of this measure are to:

     (1)  Allow for lesser emergency period penalties to be adopted and promulgated by the governor or a mayor; and

     (2)  Amend the State's existing traffic infraction laws to incorporate emergency period infractions so that they are adjudicated in the same manner.

     SECTION 2.  Section 127A-29, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

     "[[]§127A-29[]  Misdemeanors.] Emergency period infractions, violations, petty misdemeanors, and misdemeanors.  (a)  Any person violating any rule of the governor or mayor prescribed and promulgated pursuant to this chapter and having the force and effect of law[,] shall, if it shall be so stated and designated in the rule, be guilty of a violation, petty misdemeanor, or misdemeanor.  [Upon] The governor or mayor may state and designate the penalty applicable to the offense; provided that if a penalty is not stated and designated, the person shall be sentenced in accordance with chapter 706; provided further that if both the offense and penalty are not stated and designated in the rule, the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, the person shall be fined not more than [$5,000, or] $2,000, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

     The governor or mayor may prescribe or promulgate the noncompliance of a rule as an emergency period infraction, as defined in section 291D-2.  Any emergency period infraction so stated and designated in the emergency proclamation or order shall be adjudicated pursuant to chapter 291D.  A person not in compliance with an emergency period rule shall be fined $200 for each occurrence; provided that the governor or mayor may state and designate in the rule a fine of a different amount.

     (b)  [Any] Notwithstanding subsection (a), any person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly destroys, damages, or loses any shelter, protective device, or warning or signal device, shall if the same was installed or constructed by the United States, the State, or a county, or is the property of the United States, the State, or a county, be fined the cost of replacement, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.  The governor or mayor, may, by rule, make further provisions for the protection from misuse of shelters, protective devices, or warning and signal devices."

     SECTION 3.  Chapter 291D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the title to read as follows:

"[[]CHAPTER 291D[]]


     SECTION 4.  Section 291D-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

     "[[]§291D-1[]]  Purpose.  (a)  Act 222, Session Laws of Hawaii 1978, began the process of decriminalizing certain traffic offenses, not of a serious nature, to the status of violations.  In response to a request by the legislature, the judiciary prepared a report in 1987 that recommended, among other things, further decriminalization of traffic offenses, elimination of most traffic arraignments, disposition of uncontested violations by mail, and informal hearings where the violation or the proposed penalty is questioned.  The legislature finds that further decriminalization of certain traffic offenses and streamlining of the handling of those traffic cases will achieve a more expeditious system for the judicial processing of traffic infractions.  The system of processing traffic infractions established by this chapter will:

     (1)  Eliminate the long and tedious arraignment proceeding for a majority of traffic matters;

     (2)  Facilitate and encourage the resolution of many traffic infractions through the payment of a monetary assessment;

     (3)  Speed the disposition of contested cases through a hearing, similar to small claims proceedings, in which the rules of evidence will not apply and the court will consider as evidence the notice of traffic infraction, applicable police reports, or other written statements by the police officer who issued the notice, any other relevant written material, and any evidence or statements by the person contesting the notice of traffic infraction;

     (4)  Dispense in most cases with the need for witnesses, including law enforcement officers, to be present and for the participation of the prosecuting attorney;

     (5)  Allow judicial, prosecutorial, and law enforcement resources to be used more efficiently and effectively; and

     (6)  Save the taxpayers money and reduce their frustration with the judicial system by simplifying the traffic court process.

The legislature further finds that this chapter will not require expansion of the current traffic division of the district courts, but will achieve greater efficiency through more effective use of existing resources of the district courts.

     (b)  The legislature finds that the pandemic related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) necessitated the imposition of emergency period rules in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19 in the State.  The thousands of violations of the emergency period rules caused an examination of the ability to impose infractions for lesser offenses as an alternative to using the penal code and to allow for more efficient use of the judicial system.  The system of processing traffic infractions under this chapter was enacted in 1993 and has provided a useful mechanism for handling offenses deemed as infractions and is well-suited to certain types of violations of emergency period rules that are designated infractions by the governor or mayor under the state's emergency management laws."

     SECTION 5.  Section 291D-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the definitions of "concurrent trial", "hearing", "notice of traffic infraction", "related criminal offense", and "traffic infraction" to read as follows:

     "Concurrent trial" means a trial proceeding held in the district or family court in which the defendant is tried simultaneously in a civil case for any charged traffic or emergency period infraction and in a criminal case for any related criminal offense, with trials to be held in one court on the same date and at the same time.

     "Hearing" means a proceeding conducted by the district court pursuant to section 291D-8 at which the person to whom a notice of traffic infraction was issued either admits to the traffic infraction, contests the notice of traffic or emergency period infraction, or admits to the traffic infraction but offers an explanation to mitigate the monetary assessment imposed.

     "Notice of traffic or emergency period infraction" includes a notice of parking infraction.

     "Related criminal offense" means any criminal violation or crime, committed in the same course of conduct as a traffic or emergency period infraction, for which the defendant is arrested or charged.

     "Traffic or emergency period infraction" means all:

     (1)  [violations] Violations of statutes, ordinances, or rules relating to traffic movement and control, including parking, standing, equipment, and pedestrian offenses, for which the prescribed penalties do not include imprisonment and that are not otherwise specifically excluded from coverage of this chapter[.]; and

     (2)  Occurrences of non-compliance of rules proclaimed or ordered by the governor or a mayor pursuant to chapter 127A that are stated and designated in the emergency proclamation or order as being an emergency period infraction."

     SECTION 6.  Sections 291D-2, 291D-3, 291D-4, 291D-5, 291D‑6, 291D-7, 291D-8, 291D-9, 291D-12, 291D-13, and 291D-14 are amended by substituting the word "traffic or emergency period infraction" wherever the word "traffic infraction" appears, as the context requires.

     SECTION 7.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 8.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.



Report Title:

Emergency Period Infractions; Violations; Petty Misdemeanors; Misdemeanors



Allows for lesser emergency period penalties to be adopted and promulgated by the governor or a mayor.  Allows for the emergency period infractions to be processed under the traffic adjudication process in chapter 291D, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  (Proposed SD1)




The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.