Hawaii

Hawaii’s motor vehicle laws are governed at the state level and are also regulated at the individual county level by the county directors of finance.

Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing
City and County of Honolulu
1455 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 973-2700

Department of Motor Vehicles
County of Maui
70 E. Kaahumanu Ave. Ste. A-17
Kahului, HI 96732
(808) 270-7363 | www.co.maui.hi.us/index.asp?NID=554

Department of Finance, Division of Treasury
County of Kauai
4444 Rice Street
Lihue, HI 96766
(808) 241-6577

Motor Vehicle Licensing and Registration
County of Hawaii Aupuni Center
101 Pauahi Street, Suite 5
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 961-8351 | www.hawaii-county.com/vrl/mvrgeninfo.html

Hawaii Department of Transportation
Aliiaimoku Building
869 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 587-2150 | www.state.hi.us/dot

Title Application

Upon registration of a vehicle, the county director of finance issues a certificate of registration and a certificate of ownership.

A certificate of ownership does not need to be renewed each year and remains valid until replaced by a new certificate of ownership or cancelled by the director of finance.


Title Transfer of Ownership

Within 30 days of a transfer of ownership, the transferee must forward the certificate of ownership to the county director of finance, after both the transferor and transferee have signed the certificate in the appropriate space for transfers.

Upon receipt of the certificate of ownership, the director of finance issues a new certificate of registration and a new certificate of ownership.

Within 10 days of a transfer of ownership, the transferor must give notice, on an official form, to the director of finance of such transfer indicating the date of transfer, the names and addresses of the transferor and transferee and a description of the vehicle; failure to comply with this rule carries a fine of not more than $100.


Titles for Mobile Homes

N/A.

Registration Application

The application for registration is made to the director of finance for the county where the vehicle is to be operated and must contain the name, occupation, and address of the owner, a description of the vehicle, and the type of fuel it uses.

Upon registration of a vehicle, the director of finance issues a certificate of registration and a certificate of ownership.

Upon registration of a trailer, a certificate of registration is issued by the county director of finance, but a certificate of ownership is not issued for trailers.

If the address or name of the registered owner of a vehicle is changed from that stated on the application or the certificate of registration, the registered owner must notify the appropriate county finance director, in writing, within 30 days of the change; when the name of the registered owner is changed, along with the notification of such change, the registered owner must submit the certificate of ownership, the current certificate of registration, and proof of the change of name.

An application for registration will not be accepted unless the vehicle is to be operated in the county of application at the time of application, but an application for a vehicle that is not within the state will be accepted provided the vehicle is currently registered in the state and the application is accompanied by the name and local address of the applicant, a description of the vehicle, a copy of the bill of sale, and a written statement signed by the applicant stating that the use tax will be paid within 60 days of arrival of the vehicle in the state.

If a vehicle is moved to another county and is to be operated in that county, the existing registration will remain valid until it expires, at which time the owner must apply for registration to the finance director of the county in which the vehicle is located, whether or not the owner is domiciled or has his principal place of business in that county.

A new unlicensed vehicle that is not within the state may be registered when the application is accompanied by a written certificate signed by the seller stating the name and address of the seller, the purchaser, and a description of the vehicle.

There is no period of grace for late registration.


Registration for Non-Residents

Within 30 days of operating a vehicle that has been registered in another state or country, the owner must apply to the director of finance for an out-of-state vehicle registration permit.

Upon receipt of an out-of-state permit, the director of finance issues the owner of an out-of-state vehicle a distinctive registration certificate and an emblem indicating the date of expiration of the permit which must be affixed to the rear bumper of the vehicle, or rear fender of a motorcycle.

A certificate of registration issued for out-of-state vehicles is valid for the unexpired portion of the registration period in accordance with the law of the other jurisdiction.

Military personnel on active duty in Hawaii may maintain home state vehicle registration.


Registration Type

The certificate of registration must be kept in the registered vehicle at all times and must be presented at the request of a peace officer.

All certificates of registration expire at midnight on December 31 of each year and must be renewed annually before April 1 of each year with such renewal taking effect as of January 1 of each year; however, the individual counties may employ a staggered system of registration.


Emissions Inspection

No statewide emissions inspections required.


Safety Inspection

All vehicles having a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 lbs. or less must obtain a certificate of inspection prior to the issuance of registration, and all such vehicles must be certified every 12 months.

Vehicles with a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs., as well as taxicabs, buses, and ambulances must obtain a certificate of inspection prior to the issuance of registration, and must be certified every 6 months.

Stickers indicating issuance of a certificate of inspection must be affixed to the vehicle.

Operation of a vehicle that has not been granted a certificate of inspection carries a fine of not more than $100.

Any police officer of any county may require the owner of a vehicle to submit the vehicle for inspection.


Title and Registration Fees

AUTOMOBILE

Title Fee: n/a

Registration Fee: $45.00 for all motor vehicles plus an applicable weight tax.*

MOTORCYCLE

Title Fee: n/a

Registration Fee: $45.00 for all motor vehicles plus an applicable weight tax.*

DUPLICATES

Plate Fee: $5.00

Registration Fee: Maui County: $6.00; all other counties: $5.00

Driver’s License Fee: Hawaii County and Maui County: $6.00; all other counties: $5.00.

Title Fee: $n/a

Special Plates: $25.00

*$25.00 $0.0175 per pound for every vehicle up to 4,000 pounds net weight; $0.02 per pound for every vehicle between 4,000 and 7,000 pounds; $0.0225 per pound for every vehicle between 7,000 and 10,000 pounds; and $300 flat rate for every vehicle over 10,000 pounds. The various counties have varied rate fees as well: Honolulu City and County – $0.04 per pound; Maui County – $0.0125 per pound; Hawaii County – $0.0075 per pound; Kauai County – $0.0125 times vehicle weight plus $0.0075.

Plate Disbursement

Two plates are issued by the director of finance upon original registration; motorcycles and trailers receive only 1 plate. License plates are validated with stickers.

The color scheme for license plates is a rainbow design.

Special plates are issued for consuls and official representatives of foreign governments at no charge.

Special plates are also authorized for owners of an amateur radio station license and for disabled persons.

Regulation plates must be surrendered to the county civil defense agency upon receipt of special plates.

Special plates are issued for antique motor vehicles and are used in lieu of standard plates.

Upon the transfer of ownership of a vehicle or upon the expiration or revocation of an amateur radio station license, a holder of special plates must surrender them to the administrator of the county civil defense agency.

Transfer of Plates

An owner of a vehicle may request, and the director has discretion to permit, the transfer of license plates from an old vehicle to a new vehicle acquired by the owner.

Driver's License Examination

A driver’s license examination includes a test of the applicant’s eyesight (20/40 visual acuity required) and any further physical examination the examiner of drivers finds necessary to determine the applicant’s fitness to operate a vehicle, a written exam demonstrating ability to understand highway signs and rules of the road, and a roadside examination.

Every applicant under 18 years old must provide proof of completion of an approved driver education program and a behind-the-wheel training course.

An applicant that is at least 16 years old, but not more than 17 years old, will not be examined by the examiner of drivers unless the applicant has held a valid instruction permit for at least 90 days.

The examination for an instruction permit does not include a roadside test.

An applicant who fails the knowledge or practical test must wait 1 week before retaking the exam.


Graduated Driver's Licensing

Hawaii has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 15 and 6 months, individuals are eligible for a learner’s permit.

  • Permit holders must hold it for at least 6 months, and must practice driving for at least 50 hours, including 10 hours at night.

At age 16, drivers are eligible for an intermediate license.

  • During this stage, individuals may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (exceptions include driving to and from work or authorized school activities).
  • Transportation of more than 1 passenger under age 18 who is not a family member also is prohibited during this stage.
  • Drivers must remain free of convictions for traffic related offenses and may not be at fault for any crashes in order to progress in the graduated licensing program.

Drivers who have held a provisional license for 6 months and are at least 17 years of age, or have turned age 18, are eligible for an unrestricted license.

Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.


Driver's License Issuance/Application

A license will not be issued to any person whose license has been suspended or revoked, or has within 2 years been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Learner’s permit may be issued to a person who is at least 15 years old; such permits are valid for 1 year and allow the holder to operate a vehicle, other than a motorcycle, only when a licensed driver at least 18 years old accompanies the permit holder in the vehicle.

A driver’s license may be issued to a person who is at least 16 years old, but less than 18 years old, but such persons must provide proof that they have completed an approved driver education program and a behind-the-wheel training course in this state or a prior state.

An application by any person under 18 years of age for a driver’s license or instruction permit must be signed by the applicant’s father and mother, the custodial parent or guardian(s), or any responsible individual who is willing to assume obligation for negligence or misconduct of the minor applicant; whichever individual(s) signs for the applicant will be held jointly and severally liable for any negligence or misconduct by the minor applicant when driving a motor vehicle.

All applicants must produce a valid motor vehicle or liability insurance identification card; the examiner of drivers will not issue a license without such liability card.

An application for a driver’s license or temporary permit must include such information as necessary to allow the examiner of drivers to register the applicant with the United States Selective Service System; failure to include such information will cause the examiner of drivers to refuse to issue a license or permit.

A license must include a color photograph. License does not include social security number.

Anyone applying for an original or renewal of their Hawaii driver’s license or permit must show proof of legal presence in the U.S.

Allows a person who does not have a social security number to receive a driver’s license if they have a Social Security Administration letter stating that the applicant is ineligible to obtain a social security number; and either show a government issued photo identification document or other identification documents deemed as acceptable by the DMV Director.

If the holder of a license changes residence or his or her name, the licensee must notify the examiner of drivers, in writing, of the person’s old and new addresses, or former and new name, within 30 days of the change; failure to comply with these rules carries a fine of not more than $25.


Driver's License Renewal

Licenses expire on the first birthday of the licensee not less than 8 years after the license was issued. If the licensee is 24 years old or younger, the license will expire on the first birthday of the licensee not less than 4 years after the license was issued. If the licensee is 72 years old or older the license expires 2 years after the date of issuance. An application for renewal may not be made more than 6 months prior to expiration of a license, and an application for renewal that is made more than 90 days after expiration of an old license will be treated as an application for a new license and the applicant will be examined as such.

A license holder seeking renewal must apply in person before the examiner of drivers but is not required to undergo re-examination of the person’s driving skills.

No driver’s license will be renewed until the applicant has passed the vision test.

Application for renewal may be made by mail if the licensee holds a category (1), (2), or (3) license and is temporarily absent from the state when the license expires. The licensee must submit a statement from a licensed physician not more than 6 months prior to the date of expiration of the license indicating the applicant meets the necessary physical requirements to operate a vehicle and the licensee must also include a notarized statement certifying he or she is a resident of the state and does not hold a valid license from any other jurisdiction.

Active duty military personnel and their accompanying dependents are exempt from renewal requirements if their drivers license expires while they are deployed outside of the United States until 30 days after return to the U.S.


Types of Driver's Licenses

Licenses are issued according to 4 categories:

Category (1) permits operation of a moped.

Category (2) permits operation of a motorcycle or a motor scooter.

Category (3) permits operation of passenger cars of any GVWR, buses designed to carry 15 or fewer passengers, and trucks or vans with a GVWR of 18,000 lbs. or less.

Category (4) permits operation of any category (3) vehicle and any non-commercial vehicle having a GVWR of between 18,001 and 26,000 lbs.

Distracted Driving

Handheld cell phone use and text messaging while driving are banned for all drivers.  Drivers under 18 are banned from all wireless device use.


Emergency Radio/Cellular

Emergency cell phone number is 911 or *273.

Citizen band radio channel (9) is not monitored for emergency calls.


Headsets

No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.


Impaired Driving

All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.

Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.

The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws.  NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.

Hawaii requires the use of ignition interlocks for all impaired driving offenders.


Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights, including tow trucks, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so (and if possible move two lanes over), and slow to a speed that is safe, reasonable, and prudent.


Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers.

Violations of the seat belt law are standard offenses.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is prohibited, unless there are no available seats in the cab.


Child Passenger Safety

Children ages 8 until 17 are required to wear a seat belt in all seats. Children ages 4 until 8 must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are over 4 feet 9 inches or weigh more than 40 lbs.

Children under age 4 must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system.

Children over 40 lbs. may be belted without a booster seat if they are seated in the rear seat of a vehicle equipped with only a lap belt.

Violations of the child restraint laws are standard offenses.


Railroad Crossing

Vehicles approaching a railroad crossing must stop within 55 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail when a signal device indicates the immediate approach of a train, a crossing gate is lowered or a flagman signals stop, a train within 1,500 feet signals that it is approaching, or is in hazardous proximity to the crossing.


School Buses

Whenever a school bus is stopped on a roadway and its visual signals are activated, the driver of every motor vehicle on the same roadway, in either direction, must stop not less than 20 feet from the school bus and may proceed only when the school bus resumes motion and the visual signals are turned off. This rule does not apply when a bus is traveling on a different or divided roadway.

Bumper Height

The maximum bumper height for passenger vehicles is 22 inches; for vehicles with a GVWR of 4,500 lbs. and under, 29 inches; for vehicles with a GVWR of 4,501 to 7,500 lbs., 33 inches; for vehicles with a GVWR of 7,501 to 10,000 lbs., 35 inches.


Headlight Use

Headlights are required to be used 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.


Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is not permitted while driving.


Tire Chains

Tire chains are not permitted.


Studded Tires

Studded tires are not permitted.


Glass/Window Tinting

It is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle if the glazing material on any windows or windshield, excepting the top edge of the windshield, does not meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 205.


Telematics

No statewide telematics restriction.


Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted for passenger vehicles but prohibited for use by commercial vehicles.


Windshield Stickers

Signs or stickers displayed in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver, or signs or stickers displayed in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest the driver are permissible.


Other Equipment Rules

N/A.

Motorcycle Equipment

Operators and passengers on motorcycles must wear safety glasses, goggles, or a face shield, unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen.

No person less than 18 years of age may operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle or moped unless the person wears a safety helmet.

It is unlawful for any motorcycle or motor scooter driver to carry as a passenger a person under the age of 7 years.

Every motorcycle or motor scooter must have at least 1 lighted headlight which must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, and must be powerful enough to reveal a person, vehicle, or substantial object at least 200 feet ahead.

Every motorcycle or motor scooter must have at least 1 lighted, red taillight which must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise and must be powerful enough so as to be visible from a distance of 200 feet to the rear.

If carrying a passenger, a motorcycle must be equipped with footrests, unless the passenger is riding in a sidecar.


Motorcycle Licenses

A temporary instruction permit may be obtained at age 15 1/2 but holders of temporary permits may not operate a motorcycle or motor scooter during the hours of darkness or carry any passengers.

The temporary instruction permit for a motorcycle may not be renewed more than once.

The roadside examination for a motorcycle license may be waived if the applicant has completed the approved motorcycle education course.


Motorcycle Noise Limits

All motorcycles and mopeds must be equipped with a muffler designed to limit excessive or unusual noise, and it is unlawful to modify a muffler in order to amplify the noise emitted by the motor.


Mopeds & Other

No person may drive a moped unless the person possesses a valid driver’s license of any type issued by the state, or the person is at least 18 years old and holds a valid license from another jurisdiction.

No person under the age of 15 may drive a moped and it is unlawful to carry anybody other than the driver upon a moped.

Every person riding a moped on a roadway enjoys all the rights and is responsible for all the duties of the driver of a vehicle.

Unless otherwise determined by individual counties and posted upon a roadway, a moped must use a bicycle lane wherever one exists.

A moped may not be driven at a speed greater than 35 mph.

From 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise and whenever visibility is such as it is difficult to see persons and vehicles clearly at a distance of 200 feet, a moped must display a lighted headlamp and tail lamp.

A moped must be permanently registered.

The transfer of ownership of a moped requires the signature of both the transferor and transferee on the certificate of registration, and the transferee must forward the signed certificate to the county director of finance within 30 days.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet; trailer and motor home length: 45 feet; width: 9 feet; height: 14 feet.


Trailer Brakes

Independent braking system required where gross weight exceeds 3,000 lbs.


Trailer Hitch/Signals

Ball hitch either mounted on bumper or secured to frame is acceptable; safety chain is required.


Trailer Lighting

Trailers must be equipped with a light on the extreme width of each side such that the light shall be in use 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise and shall be visible from all directions at a distance of 200 feet.


Trailer Mirrors

N/A.


Trailer Speed Limits

As posted.


Trailer Towing

N/A.


Trailer Other Provisions

It is unlawful to occupy a trailer designed as temporary or permanent abode while such trailer is being moved on a public highway.

Maximum of 1 boat or general utility trailer may be towed behind passenger or pleasure vehicles.

Accident Reporting

Crashes are required to be immediately reported in cases of death or injury, or when property damage exceeds $3000.00.


Bail Bonds

AAA Guaranteed Arrest Bond Certificate may be accepted instead of cash bail if the fine for the violation is $1,000 or less.


Liability Laws

It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or motor scooter unless it is insured at all times.

Hawaii has a no-fault insurance law. The minimum liability policy coverage is $20,000 per person with an aggregate limit of $40,000 per accident and $10,000 for all damages to or destruction of property.

A valid motor vehicle or liability insurance identification card must be in the possession of the driver of a vehicle at all times and must be presented when requested by a peace officer.

State does not have non-resident service of process law, but non-residents may be served when in state; does not have guest suit law.


Weigh Stations

Trucks over 10,000 lbs. GVWR must stop.


Bicycles

Bicycle helmets are required for all riders under age 16.

Drivers passing a bicycle rider traveling in the same direction must pass at a safe distance.


Other

Hawaii is party to the Non-Resident Violator Compact.