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County conference on drunken driving (Nov. 24)

MEDIA RELEASE

With the arrival of the holiday season, there’s a renewed awareness of driver safety on our roads and highways.

While alcohol and celebrations may often go together, alcohol and driving too often results in terrible tragedy.

The county is holding a media conference to discuss anti-drunken driving measures being taken to prevent needless injuries and deaths from alcohol-related crashes.

The media and public are invited to the conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24 in the Puna Conference Room of the County Building, 25 Aupuni St., Hilo.

Dr. Sharon Vitousek, director of the North Hawaii Outcomes Project (NHOP), will discuss the latest county statistics regarding traffic fatalities in NHOP’s recently released report, “Reducing Impaired Driving Deaths in Hawaii County: A Call to Action.”

The county will announce the second year of its Holiday Shared Ride Taxi program in which free shared ride taxi coupons are offered to participating bars and restaurants. The bars and restaurants give them free to inebriated patrons to get them home safely.

“We would like to express our thanks to the participating taxi companies, bars and restaurants for their interest in keeping our island safe and for their commitment to making our island a better, safer place to live,” said County Prosecutor Jay Kimura, whose department makes funds available for the shared ride coupons from drug forfeiture funds.

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri encouraged everyone to use the shared ride coupons or make other arrangements to get home safely if planning to drink during holiday celebrations this year.

“At the very least it could prevent you from getting a drunk driving conviction,” said Kubojiri, noting police will be increasing DUI enforcement during the holiday season. “But most important, it will help save lives.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi, representatives from the County Mass Transit Agency, Hilo Medical Center, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and local businesses participating in the Holiday Shared Ride program also are expected to participate in the media conference.

“The holidays are a critical time for thinking about and implementing drunk-driving prevention programs,” Kenoi said. “Everyone should have a joyous holiday season, so let’s celebrate safely and make this the best holiday season ever.”

The holiday shared ride program is sponsored jointly by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Police Department, county Mass Transit Agency, Department of Liquor Control and Office of the Mayor.

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