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House panel suspends state Rep. Sharon Har DUI inquiry

  • Video Courtesy HPD

                                A Honolulu Police Department officer’s body-worn camera recorded the DUI arrest of state Rep. Sharon Har on Feb. 22.


    A Honolulu Police Department officer’s body-worn camera recorded the DUI arrest of state Rep. Sharon Har on Feb. 22.

A special committee in the House of Representatives set up to investigate state Rep. Sharon Har’s arrest on suspicion of drunken driving in February is suspending its proceedings until charges in the criminal case are resolved.

Rep. Della Au Belatti (D, Moiliili- Makiki-Tantalus), chairwoman of the committee, made the recommendation during a Tuesday hearing, and it was unanimously approved by its six members.

The delay means the matter likely won’t be taken up in the Legislature until it convenes in January, as this year’s legislative session is set to to adjourn in a month.

The special committee will review whether Har violated standards of conduct for House members. A final report and recommendations on punishment, if any, will be submitted to the full House. Har could potentially be censured or, by a two-thirds vote by the full House, suspended or expelled from office.

Har is scheduled to appear in criminal court April 20 on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and for driving without insurance.

Har (D, Kapolei-­Makakilo) was arrested on the night of Feb. 22 after she was seen driving in the wrong direction on one-way South Beretania Street in Honolulu. Police reports indicated her eyes appeared red and glassy, her speech slightly slurred and that there was a smell of alcohol.

Har refused a field sobriety test and was arrested in the parking lot of Territorial Savings Bank.

Har asked one officer during the arrest if he “knew who she is” and said she was going to be the next governor, but “this will mess up her plans,” and at one point blurted out “Black lives matter,” according to officer reports of the incident.

Har’s DUI case has attracted particular attention because she helped stiffen Hawaii’s drunken driving laws, including a mandatory, two-year revocation of one’s drivers license for refusing to take a breath or blood test.

Har herself was the victim of a serious car accident 14 years ago when a 23-year-old driver slammed into her Mercedes on Fort Barrette Road. The driver had two previous drunken driving cases, was not allowed to be driving and faced a third drunken driving charge for the crash.

The day after Har’s arrest last month, she issued a public apology and said she had a beer with dinner while also taking prescription cough medicine with codeine for an upper respiratory illness, which contributed to her “impaired driving.”

The House internal investigation was initiated after 11 members of the Democratic Party’s District 42 Council, chaired by Mike Golojuch Sr., sent a letter to House Speaker Scott Saiki requesting an investigation into Har’s conduct. Golojuch’s son, Michael Golojuch Jr., ran unsuccessfully against Har in 2014, though his father said earlier this month that the request wasn’t politically motivated.

Carolyn Martinez Golojuch, the wife of Mike Golojuch Sr., also submitted a request for an investigation.

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