State briefs for March 15

Counties struggle with abandoned vehicle cost

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s counties have struggled to meet the growing financial burden caused by abandoned vehicles in recent years and are tackling the problem without the Legislature.

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The Hawaii Council of Mayors has been unable to find measures to contend with the issue, despite making transportation one of the group’s legislative priorities this year, Hawaii Public Radio reported Thursday.

Kauai County received reports of 900 abandoned vehicles and Maui County logged nearly double that number last year. On Oahu last year, Honolulu removed more than 4,700 abandoned vehicles.

Bills aimed at dealing with the financial and environmental costs of junk cars failed to gain traction in the Legislature, so counties are addressing the problem individually.

Counties usually charge residents highway beautification fees of up to $10 per year. But Tamara Farnsworth, head of the Maui County Environmental Protection &Sustainability Division, said that was not enough.

“In addition to our Highway Beautification Fund and Abandoned Vehicles Fund,” Farnsworth said, “we also have a $25 vehicle disposal fee that each Maui resident pays on their annual registration.”

The money helps subsidize Maui’s junk car disposal program and allows residents to dispose of one vehicle per year without cost.

All of Hawaii’s other counties offer a similar program.

Maui police increase DUI patrols ahead of St. Patrick’s Day

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — There will be more sobriety checkpoints and police patrols targeting impaired driving in Maui ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, authorities said.

Police began Friday conducting sobriety test checkpoints and increasing patrols with plans to continue measures through St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday.

“Our goal is to promote voluntary compliance of all traffic laws and reduce motor vehicle crashes on our roadways,” the department said in a news release.

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Legislation signed into law in December allows police to tow vehicles operated by drivers who are arrested for driving under the influence, driving without a license or driving after their license is suspended or revoked for impaired driving, authorities said.

People who have been drinking are encouraged to use ride-sharing or taxi services or call a sober friend or family member, police said.

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