New Hawaii crosswalk law takes effect today
A slate of new laws takes effect today on the first day of the new state fiscal year, including one that might startle some pedestrians.
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Starting today, you’d better watch your step crossing the street.
A slate of new laws takes effect today on the first day of the new state fiscal year, including one that might startle some pedestrians: Senate Bill 693 makes it quite clear you can be fined for entering a crosswalk once the pedestrian countdown timer has started running.
Honolulu Police Capt. Ben Moszkowicz of the Traffic Division said SB 693 is really a “clarification” of existing law because pedestrians were already supposed to refrain from entering a crosswalk once the timer began its countdown.
“I think this is just meant to bring the law up to date with the technology that they’re currently using,” Moszkowicz said.
But the law could come as an unwelcome surprise to some pedestrians in the downtown business district who regularly hurry across intersections such as Hotel and Alakea streets.
When the light changes at that intersection, the signal gives pedestrians crossing Alakea Street a mere five seconds to step into the crosswalk before the timer begins counting down the seconds until the light will change. And since the main entrance of Honolulu District Court feeds into that intersection, there are always plenty of police officers around.
Technically, the penalty for stepping into the street after the timer starts ticking down is $130, but Moszkowicz doubts many officers have written citations for that.
“Could we? Yes, we could. Did we? Nah, not really. Not realistically,” he said. “And honestly, under the new statute we probably wouldn’t cite people, either. … We kind of try to use some common sense. If they’re still in the intersection when the red hand goes on, then we probably would cite them then.”
In a signing ceremony last week, Gov. David Ige said he was signing that bill and several others dealing with traffic safety because “it has been a priority to really reduce the number of fatalities on our highways.”
Other new laws that will take effect today include Act 87, which makes it a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail for anyone other than a state or county agency to buy or sell a parking placard for disabled persons.”
Only state or county issuing agencies are authorized to sell those parking passes. The same new law also authorizes law enforcement officials to seize bogus parking placards when they encounter them.
Another new law that takes effect today requires hotels and resorts to begin collecting the state hotel room tax on mandatory extra charges they impose on their guests that are not part of the basic room rate, such as for wireless service and other amenities.
And in a significant issue for Hawaii island, starting today, a new law allows property owners whose neighbors have invasive albizia trees growing on an adjacent property to go next door to remove the trees.
Any owner who enters his neighbor’s land to remove albizia trees is required to document that the trees could become a hazard, and must give written notice to the owner where the trees are growing.
Fast-growing albizia tress have become a major problem on Hawaii island, where they have done a great deal of damage to power lines and homes when they topple over during storms.