Habitual DUI gets man 5-year term

WAILUKU – For his fourth drunken-driving conviction in as many years, a man was sentenced Jan. 10 to a five-year prison term.

“If we were to have a contest for most consecutive DUIs, I think you would win,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo told John Kopra, 56. “For four straight years, you have had four convictions for DUI.”

Kopra had DUI convictions in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before his latest drunken-driving arrest July 6.

“It seems clear this is a man who has been struggling with addiction for most of his adult life,” said Deputy Public Defender William “Pili” McGrath. “It finally led to him being in Hawaii, homeless and living in his van. Normally, I tell clients why don’t you drink at home.”

In his latest arrest, Kopra didn’t have a driver’s license and his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.14 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, McGrath said.

Kopra had pleaded no contest to driving without a license and habitually operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. The felony charge can be brought when someone arrested for DUI has at least three prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years.

Kopra, who has already spent about six months in jail, asked to be placed on probation so he could get treatment.

But Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani argued for prison for Kopra.

“He’s very fortunate he hasn’t injured or killed anyone,” Tani said. “Unless Mr. Kopra changes his behavior, essentially he’s a ticking time bomb.”

Loo said it was fortunate that Kopra hadn’t harmed someone else.

“You are a danger,” she told Kopra. “You don’t even have a license, so you shouldn’t have been on the roadway to begin with. I’m not going to wait until you take someone’s life or your own.”

Kopra’s license was revoked for five years, and he was ordered to pay $549 in fees.