Students come out to fight drunken driving

KIHEI – As the school winter break began, some Baldwin High School students spent a few hours helping warn against drunken driving in hopes of keeping residents “safe for the holidays.”

Holding signs and banners, the students and some Mothers Against Drunk Driving supporters joined Maui police officers at a DUI roadblock Friday night along South Kihei Road near Uwapo Road.

“We’re helping people be aware of safe driving so they can stay safe for the holidays, so they can be with their families,” said April Torres, a 17-year-old senior and president of the Students Against Destructive Decisions club at Baldwin High School.

Maui police, who have already made more than 1,000 DUI arrests this year, arrested one driver who was directed into the coned-off checkpoint set up along the northbound lane of the road Friday.

Many students watched as DUI Task Force officer Dennis Arnds administered field sobriety tests, then handcuffed the driver. The 48-year-old Kihei man was arrested for driving under the influence of an intoxicant and released after posting $1,000 bail, according to police records.

“It’s an eye-opening event,” said Amy Ancheta, a Baldwin science teacher and adviser for the SADD club. “These kids get it ingrained in them that they shouldn’t drink and drive, and they see the consequences. I’m sure they’re going to promote not drinking.”

Twenty-four student club members and about 10 MADD supporters joined seven police officers staffing the checkpoint Friday night.

“It’s good for the students as well as the drivers,” said Sgt. Lawrence Pagaduan, who supervises school resource officers. “It brings awareness to the students. Hopefully, they can pass it on to the adults they’re in contact with.”

Baldwin school resource officer Trinidad Alconcel said students seemed enthusiastic about participating in the roadblock. They thanked drivers who were found to be sober, passing out bottles of water.

Alconcel said students often ask him about drunken driving and the tests police use to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. During the school year, students have held signs near the school cautioning people to drive safely and warning against texting and driving, Alconcel said.

Wailuku resident and MADD volunteer Andrea Maniago, who participated in the roadblock for the fourth year, said she was glad to see police officers and students interacting. She and family members have shown up in memory of her 16-year-old son, Ka’io Fukushima, a Baldwin student who was among the passengers killed in a car crash in Kula in July 2009.

“It’s a good thing that we can still be part of, just to celebrate my son,” Maniago said.

Zach Loomer, a 17-year-old Baldwin senior, was participating for the second year.

“It’s close to me,” he said, because his brother was in a car accident and survived.

Loomer said it was important “that I do something like this to help the community out.”

“Any word that gets out there is a word that could bring a conscious thought to somebody’s mind,” he said.

Akina Bus Services donated transportation for the students from school to the checkpoint and back.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at