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Hawaii Court Records

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What are Hawaii Traffic Court Records?

Hawaii traffic court records contain the official records and reports created during the hearing of traffic violation offenses in the state of Hawaii.

Are Hawaii Traffic Court Records Public Records?

The majority of Hawaii traffic court records are open to the public. Public records are documents and proceedings created in trial courts designated as “courts of public record.” Records created in Hawaii traffic courts are considered public records, with the exception of records that have been specifically restricted by law or court order.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in Hawaii

A Hawaii traffic ticket is a legal document issued as a citation for a traffic offense in the state of Hawaii. Traffic tickets are generally issued by law enforcement officials who witnessed the alleged offense. They serve as a sworn statement by the officer regarding their observation of the incident. A Hawaii traffic ticket will be filled in by the complaining officer and contain:

  • Details about the defendant, including full name, physical address, date of birth, and other physical characteristics such as height, weight, race, sex, etc. It also contains the operator’s license details, social security number, and other pertinent information.
  • Details about the vehicle involved in the incident.
  • Traffic Infractions & Monetary Assessment- Details about the offenses the defendant is being charged with and accruable fines. Officer will mark the checkbox for the offense or write in the space provided. The fine amount will be included in this section. If “Court” is listed next to an infraction checked on the ticket, then a court appearance is mandatory.
  • Infraction Details - Information about the date, time, location of the incident and any other relevant details such as weather conditions, etc.
  • Officer Information - Details about the complaining officer including name, rank, agency and ID number. Should be signed and dated by the officer.
  • Defendant Acknowledgment - The defendant will sign as an acknowledgment of service of the notice. This is not an admission of responsibility.
  • Court Summons - Details about the name and location of the court with jurisdiction over the case. Date and time for appearance might be included, but if not response may be made within 21 calendar days.

The reverse of the ticket will contain instructions on how to respond to the charges.

Traffic tickets in Hawaii vary by violation, but are set by the local legislature and are uniform (for violations) across the state. Most tickets will include exact fines and any other costs to be paid. A response should be made to Hawaii State traffic tickets within 21 days of issuance. Failure to do so could result in a default judgment being issued against the offender. Traffic violations in Hawaii can be crimes or infractions. Traffic crimes are criminal violations, petty misdemeanors (punishable by a maximum prison term of 30 days), misdemeanors (punishable by a maximum prison term of one year), or felonies (punishable by a prison term of more than one year). Traffic infractions are (minor) violations of a statute, ordinance or rule for which the penalties do not include imprisonment.

Hawaii no longer operates a points-based driver’s record system. Convictions will be reported to the Hawaii Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) and be added to a driver’s record. A driver’s record (abstract) is available to be viewed by any eligible requesting party. Generally, traffic offenses are classified as moving or non-moving violations. Moving violations are offenses involving a vehicle in motion. Non-moving violations are offenses involving faulty/missing equipment or related to stationary vehicles such as parking violations. Moving vehicles can be cited for non-moving violations but these types of violations are not reported to the Hawaii TVB and a conviction will not be noted on the driver’s record.

What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Hawaii?

If a traffic ticket is received in Hawaii, a response can be made within 21 days of issuance or a default judgment could be entered against the offender. The defendant can respond to the ticket in any of the following ways.

Admit Charges & Pay Ticket: Choosing this option will be seen as a conviction against the defendant and the violation will be included in the driver’s abstract. The defendant will need to complete the appropriate “Answer to Notice '' section and return to the court with the total fine amount and a copy of the citation. This can be done by mailing to the court indicated on the ticket or in-person at any District court. The defendant can choose to pay the traffic ticket online using the eTraffic Hawaii’s website and choosing the Pay option. This option will come with a transactional fee. It is also possible to pay by telephone. Payment can be made by checks, money order or any major credit card. Do not send cash in the mail.

Admit Charges, but Explain Mitigating Circumstances: The defendant can choose to accept the charges but wishes to explain mitigating circumstances. To follow this option, the defendant will need to complete the appropriate “Answer to Notice” section and return to the court. The defendant can choose to request a hearing or send a written statement of explanation. If the defendant chooses to send a written explanation it may be sent in with the Answer to Notice and a copy of the citation. The judge will go over the statement and reach a determination which will be communicated to the defendant by mail. If the defendant requests a hearing, the court will reply with a date, time and location for the hearing when the defendant can face a judge and receive a decision. The defendant will then be liable for whatever fines and penalties instituted by the judge. All decisions reached by the judge are final.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in Hawaii

Deny Charges: Choosing this option indicates a decision to contest the charges. The defendant can choose to do so, by requesting a hearing to appear in person or sending a written statement to the court. To request a hearing complete the appropriate “Answer to Notice” section and return to the court and the court will respond with a notification of the date, time and location of the hearing. The defendant has to explain the grounds on which to contest the ticket. There will be no prosecutor present but the defendant can request a subpoena for the officer to appear. 

What to Expect in a Hawaii Traffic Court

The judge will rule at the end of the hearing and if the defendant is found liable then all fines and costs should be paid and the conviction will be recorded by the TVB. If the judge does not find the defendant liable, then all charges will be dismissed and the defendant will be freed. To submit a written statement, it should be sent in with the “Answer to Notice” and citation copy. The defendant will receive a notification of the judge’s decision by mail and the same conditions will apply. If the defendant disagrees with the decision of the judge in either instance, a trial can be requested.

How Do I Find Hawaii Traffic Court Records?

Hawaii traffic court records can be accessed from the State Judiciary website using the eCourt Kokua service and searching for the required record. Traffic court records can also be accessed by visiting the District Court where the records are located and filing a request for the records. It is also possible to find them using third-party websites such as CourtRecords.Us

Additionally, publicly available traffic records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties may be required to provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

What Information is Required to Obtain Hawaii Traffic Court Records?

To search for Hawaii traffic court records, the party seeking the record will need to have applicable information about the record such as the full name of the defendant, case ID or citation number or part of the vehicle information. To receive records the requestor will need to provide a state-approved and valid form of identification and pay any applicable fees. Most traffic court documents are only available for copying at the courthouse.

Are all Traffic Violations Handled the Same Way in Hawaii?

Hawaii traffic violations and infractions are handled similarly. The fines indicated on the ticket usually vary and depend on the nature of the offense. Nonetheless, the procedures when responding to either traffic infractions or traffic crimes will remain the same for the particular violation i.e. all traffic crimes are handled the same and all traffic infractions are handled the same.

Can Hawaii Traffic Records be Sealed or Expunged?

In Hawaii, most arrest records that did not result in convictions can be expunged. However, it is not possible to expunge most convictions, other than DUIs before the age of 21. If an offender was issued a citation or summons and was not arrested and booked, then there is no arrest record to be expunged. An expungement of an arrest record does not remove or seal court records or traffic records; it removes the records from the arresting agency and the statewide central repository of adult criminal history record information. To seal court records use the state judiciary website.

How Does One End Up in a Hawaii Traffic Court?

A defendant ends up in Hawaii traffic court if the person was cited for a traffic infraction and the defendant wishes to explain mitigating circumstances or deny the charge, and opts to request a hearing to do so. A defendant can also end up in Hawaii traffic court if the citation issued by the officer was for a traffic crime, which is a major violation and requires a court appearance to respond to.

Which Courts in Hawaii Have Jurisdiction to Hear Traffic Violation Matters?

In Hawaii, District Courts have jurisdiction over traffic infractions and crimes. Misdemeanor violations can be transferred to Circuit Court in certain situations.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court in Hawaii

Preparing for traffic court in Hawaii involves understanding the state's traffic laws and regulations, including rules governing speeding, DUI, and other traffic offenses. Hawaii offers a "probation before judgment" option for certain traffic offenses, allowing offenders to avoid a conviction on their record if they comply with probationary terms set by the court. Additionally, in some Hawaii counties, traffic court proceedings may involve the opportunity for diversion programs or settlement conferences to resolve cases outside of trial.

Hawaii Traffic Court Records
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