If you were ticketed by Honolulu police while using your cell phone during Tuesday’s traffic nightmare, you have friends offering to help.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office said the city will provide letters to Hawaii District Court on behalf of any of the approximately 65 motorists who were issued citations for unlawful use in the vicinity of Waimano Home Road between 2 and 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Honolulu Police Department was conducting a pre-planned traffic enforcement action in that section of Pearl City, and officers continued to issue citations to motorists stalled in traffic until they were told about the Zip Mobile fiasco that caused thousands of West Oahu and Central Oahu residents to be stuck in their vehicles for as long as five hours.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Matt LoPresti (D, Ewa Beach-West Loch Estates) said he will help pay the $297 fine that might be owed by constituents who received the same ticket Tuesday afternoon and can’t get the ticket dismissed.
A captain from HPD’s Traffic Division took responsibility for the situation, and said that officers stopped issuing the citations after they were told about the horrendous traffic across Oahu. Capt. Darren Izumo also said that he was focused on helping open up the Zipper lane to H-1 freeway’s westbound motorists and neglected to inform the traffic enforcement officers to halt their actions.
Caldwell’s office, in a press release Thursday, said the administration would provide letters on behalf of each of the 65 motorists "requesting the court consider the extenuating circumstances on March 31, 2015 and dismiss the citations."
Those affected, and would like the city’s help, are asked to call the city Department of Transportation Services at 768-8305 for further information.
LoPresti, who said he was taking calls at the Capitol until midnight Wednesday from constituents stuck in traffic, said many motorists were using their cell phones to call famiiy and friends or use social media to get updated information.
While he upset his wife when he offered publicly Wednesday to pay what would amount to a maximum of $19,305 in fines, LoPresti said, no one from his district had called his office asking for help as of the end of business Thursday.
LoPresti also sent a letter to city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro asking that he "use the authority of your office to dismiss all of these citations with prejudice."
But Dave Koga, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said prosecutors typically aren’t involved in traffic violations, unless they go to trial. Motorists individually can admit guilt, plead not guilty, or admit guilt but offer mitigating circumstances. A judge can decide whether to dismiss any individual case, and prosecutors only get involved if a traffic case goes to trial, Koga said.
State Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) sought clarification from the Judiciary if the citations could be dismissed in a mass fashion.
Rodney Maile, the Judiciary’s administrative director, said in response: "It is my understanding that the citations, once issued, are not subject to mass dismissal without some kind of review, and that each ticket must be contested based on the specific circumstances of each case."