Hawaii Speeding Laws

Learn about Hawaii's speed laws and consequences of a speeding ticket.

In addition to "absolute speed limits" (see below), Hawaii's "basic speeding law" prohibits driving at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent and having regard to the actual and potential hazards and conditions then existing. (Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 291C-101 & 291C-198(a) (2017).) 

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first-time speeding violator faces:

  • fines of up to $200, and
  • license suspension of up to a year.

(Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 291C-161, 291C-170 (2017).)

Penalty for Reckless Driving

Hawaii defines "reckless driving" as operating a vehicle “recklessly in disregard of the safety of persons or property.” For a first offense, the motorist is looking at up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 in fines. (Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 291-2 (2017).)

(Learn more about Hawaii's reckless driving laws.) 

Hawaii Speed Laws

Hawaii has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law. There's no trick to how it works: If the sign says 40 miles per hour and you drive 41 miles per hour or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In Hawaii, you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • attacking the officer’s determination of your speed (to do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method)
  • claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others, and
  • claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car (with so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road).

Note that in Hawaii you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit—for example, driving exactly at the maximum posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

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