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Man sent to jail for fourth DUI; judge says he ‘poses a severe risk’ on road

WAILUKU — Saying a defendant hadn’t learned from his prior DUI arrests, a judge ordered a one-year jail term for a man who was arrested for his fourth DUI after he hit parked cars in Wailuku, then fled.

Shaka Batson, 34, of Kahului was placed on five years’ probation as part of his sentence imposed June 16.

Driving under the influence of an intoxicant “is an intolerable offense,” 2nd Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano said in sentencing Batson.

“It poses a severe risk of safety to persons using the highway,” Kawano said.

He told Batson he was lucky no one was injured.

Batson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.234 percent, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, after police arrested him the evening of Aug. 17 on Pio Drive, said Deputy Prosecutor Shelly Miyashiro.

He was seen driving a vehicle that hit parked vehicles on nearby Liholiho Street and fled with a damaged wheel on the vehicle and sparks flying, Miyashiro said.

When officers stopped Batson, he was “stumbling, uncooperative and angry, making gestures toward the officers,” she said.

A couple of months earlier, on June 25, 2021, Batson was sentenced for another DUI that also involved a collision, Miyashiro said.

“Based on the facts of this case, as well as the defendant’s record, his continued driving while intoxicated, it is clear that the defendant is a danger to the community,” she said. “He has an alarming history involving collisions.”

Batson had pleaded guilty to habitually driving under the influence of an intoxicant, a felony charge that can be brought when someone arrested for DUI has at least two prior DUI convictions within 10 years.

While the prosecution sought the one-year jail term as part of probation, the defense argued for no additional jail for Batson.

He had spent nearly three months in jail before posting bail, in contrast to his previous DUI arrests when he pleaded no contest and was released from jail after a few days, said Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson.

After his release from jail in December, Batson had a continuous alcohol monitoring device installed and had followed court requirements of “no drinking, no drugs and equally important no driving,” Stevenson said.

He said Batson completed a recommended 12-week outpatient substance abuse treatment program and was working.

“This is him making that lifestyle shift, instead of the person that runs and finds comfort in drinking to the point of intoxication,” Stevenson said.

Acknowledging he had made “some terrible decisions,” Batson said he was “blessed I didn’t hurt anybody or kill anybody on the road.”

“I’m making the steps to change that, stop drinking,” he said.

Judge Kawano noted that Batson has been drinking alcohol since he was 17 and had four convictions as an adult for DUI.

“You should have learned from prior contacts with law enforcement, but you have not,” Kawano said. “Your conduct has not changed one bit.

“This repeated conduct shows a complete lack of self-control, a complete lack of self-awareness.”

He noted that Batson’s offenses “have become more frequent and more severe.”

A District Court bench warrant was issued for Batson when he didn’t show up for a May 26 hearing in his prior DUI case, Kawano said.

“Every factor that I have looked at supports a sentence of five years in prison,” Kawano told Batson. “The saving grace for you is that you’ve never been placed on probation before.”

Referring to Batson’s completion of the outpatient treatment program, Kawano said, “That’s the only indication I have that if the court imposes probation, you would comply.”

He said Batson would face a prison sentence if he doesn’t comply with his probation.

He was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and $737 in fees. Batson also was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.

His driver’s license was revoked for five years starting June 16.

In a separate proceeding, his driver’s license had been administratively revoked for eight years through Sept. 16, 2029.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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