Paia man serving time for 4th DUI in 6 years
WAILUKU – A Paia man is serving a six-month jail term after being convicted of drunken driving four times in the past six years.
“You’re lucky you didn’t kill yourself,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told Moris Uwekoolani. “You’re very fortunate you didn’t kill an innocent person in a car or on the sidewalk.”
Uwekoolani, 33, also was placed on five years’ probation as part of his sentence Wednesday.
He had pleaded no contest to habitually driving under the influence of alcohol. The felony charge can be brought when someone is arrested for DUI after having three prior convictions within 10 years.
“What is troubling here is the repeated pattern of conduct,” said Deputy Prosecutor Mark Simonds.
He said Uwekoolani had prior convictions for drunken driving in 2007, 2009 and 2011 when a police officer saw Uwekoolani stumble off a moped at 11:10 p.m. Aug. 12. He threw down or dropped a 40-ounce liquor bottle, Simonds said.
“This is an individual who should not have been on the roadway to begin with,” he said. “He wasn’t licensed.”
Deputy Public Defender William “Pili” McGrath said Uwekoolani had graduated from three treatment programs and may need to attend a fourth.
“It may be easier to stop driving than stop drinking,” McGrath said. “It seems likely it will be a while before this man will be able to legally operate a vehicle.”
McGrath asked the judge to consider suspending a jail term for Uwekoolani.
But Simonds argued for a three-month jail term, the longest the prosecution could seek under terms of a plea agreement, “to drive home the seriousness of his conduct.”
In imposing the sentence, Loo said Uwekoolani went though intensive outpatient treatment after each of his previous DUI convictions.
“What did you learn? Obviously you did not learn because you’re back here,” she told Uwekoolani.
She said Uwekoolani admitted to being an alcoholic but “never gave any thought about quitting.”
He reported not attending 12-step programs because he didn’t believe in them, Loo said.
“All these DUIs and you haven’t learned your lesson,” she told Uwekoolani.
He was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and not consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
Uwekoolani’s license was revoked for five years.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.