Hawaiian laws

Last revised: October 5, 2016

Seat belts and child transportation

Hawaii’s universal seat belt law requires that all front and back seat motor vehicle occupants buckle up. Adults and children must use their seat belts and child restraints at all times. The child passenger restraint law requires children under the age of four to ride in a child safety seat and children ages of four through seven to ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat when traveling in a motor vehicle. The driver will be held responsible for compliance with the law. Violators of the law are required to attend a 4-hour class and may be assessed a fine of $100-$500 depending upon the number of offenses.

Hawaii law Child Safety Seats

  • Children under the age of four are required to ride in a child safety seat when riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Always review the installation instructions accompanying the car seat and the vehicle.
  • Children should be buckled up in the back seat since it has been proven to be the safest location in the vehicle.
  • Never put a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle with active front-passenger airbags.
  • Children should be kept rear-facing until the height or weight maximum of a rear-facing seat is reached.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends children ride rear-facing until the age of two.
  • Always ensure that harness straps are snug and that child is securely buckled up.

Booster Seats

  • Children ages of four through seven are required to ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle.
  • There are child safety seats with harnesses rated up to 80 pounds for vehicles equipped with lap-only belts.
  • Booster seats should be used until the lap and shoulder belts fit correctly. The lap belt should fit low and snug on the hips, and the shoulder strap should not cross over the face or neck.
  • Never place the shoulder belt behind the child’s back or under the arm.
  • A child that cannot sit with his or her back against the seat back cushion with knees bent over the vehicle’s seat edge without slouching should continue to use a booster seat regardless of age, weight or height.

Types of Seats

  • Rear-Facing Seat – Infants from birth to at least one year old and at least twenty pounds must ride in rear-facing seats. However, it is recommended that infants be kept rear-facing in the back seat as long as possible, up to the height or weight limit of the seat. There are some seats available with rear-facing limits as high as 45 pounds.
  • Convertible Seat – Convertible seats can be used rear-facing, then converted to forward-facing. The seats can be used longer since the height and weight limits are higher than for infant-only seats.
  • Forward-Facing Seat – Children that have outgrown their rear-facing seats or that are at least one year old and twenty pounds should ride forward-facing in the back seat until age four.
  • Booster Seat – Children that are four through seven years of age should ride in booster seats in the back seat until the vehicle seat belts fit properly.


Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants is prohibited in Hawaii.

Implied Consent. Any person who operates a motor vehicle on the public highways in Hawaii is deemed to have given his or her consent to be tested to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her blood.

Administrative License Revocation. Your license will be taken away and you will be given a 30-day temporary driving permit if a test shows that you have a blood alcohol content of .08 or more or if you refuse the test. Anyone whose license is revoked may request a hearing.

Zero Tolerance. Drivers under 21 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of .02 or more.

A police officer who believes a driver is under the influence of alcohol, may request the driver to take a test. Refusal to take the test may result in the revocation of your license for one year, two years or four years depending upon the driver’s prior alcohol enforcement contacts. In addition, the driver may be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol even though he refuses the test. The test can also prove that you are not under the influence of alcohol.

When the test shows alcohol in the driver’s blood, the driver may be considered to be:

  • Impaired if the blood alcohol content is more than .05 percent but less than .08 percent.
  • Under the influence of alcohol if the blood alcohol content is .08 percent or more.


Storing an opened alcoholic beverage container in the area of a motor vehicle normally occupied by the driver or passengers is prohibited on any public road.

See more details at Department of Transportation Hawaii www.hidot.hawaii.gov