Legal Assistance/Motor Vehicles

Traffic Laws




With the increase in the number of registered vehicles and licensed drivers, the need for good driving habits has never been greater. Good driving is not instinctive, it must be learned through constant practice motivated by sincere desire and effort to be a skillful and considerate driver. Experience alone is important, but not enough. The skillful driver combines knowledge of traffic laws, safe driving practices, and constant observance with the ability to anticipate and cope with unexpected situations and a consideration toward other drivers and pedestrians.



A license to operate a motor vehicle on a public highway is a privilege granted by the state and is not a guaranteed right. A person whose driving record indicates he is a hazard to himself or others will be subject to official suspension or revocation of his operator's license. In Hawaii, a point system is in effect whereby your driving privilege will be automatically suspended after accumulation of sufficient traffic violation points.

Most states maintain permanent and detailed files of all convictions of motorists within the state. A conviction in one state of a nonresident is usually filed not only in the state where the offense occurred, but also in the motorist's home state where it becomes a part of the motorist's permanent record.

Convictions of traffic offenses not only result in expensive fines, court costs, and placing your driving privileges in jeopardy, but they may also result in increased insurance rates and civil responsibility to others for damages in the event of an accident.



One of the most serious traffic offenses is driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages or drugs.

Implied Consent: Any person who drives a motor vehicle on a highway shall be deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of his blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his blood if lawfully arrested for any offense allegedly committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor. A refusal to submit to or complete such a chemical test will result in the suspension of his/her privilege to operate a motor vehicle for 12 months.

An initial conviction for DUI carries with it substantial fines and a possible jail sentence. The following are the penalties for a first--time DUI conviction:

 A fine of not less than $150.00 but not more than $1,000.00 and/or not less than 72 hours of community service and/or not less than 5 days in jail.

  • Mandatory alcohol education school; and 

  • Mandatory 90 days suspension of license.

The following are the penalties for a second DUI conviction within five years:

  • A fine of not less than $500.00 but not more than $1,500.00;

  • 5 day minimum to 14 day maximum jail time and/or 240 hours of community service; and

  • Mandatory one year suspension of license.

The legal limit for intoxication in Hawaii is 0.08- alcohol content. Remember, you can receive a DUI for less than 0.08 blood--alcohol if your driving is impaired by the alcohol you have consumed.

 A DUI will be expensive. Also, driving under the influence can cause death or injury to you and others. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE; it is simply not worth it!



Anytime the military police have probable cause to believe you have been drinking, you will be tested. Probable cause could include the smell of alcohol on your breath as you drive up to the gate. If you are found guilty of DUI on base or are found guilty of a violation off--base, you will lose your base driving privilege for one year, in addition to facing criminal sanctions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). 


When you purchase an item on credit the seller usually retains a "security interest" in that item. In other words, the item serves as "collateral" securing the debt created by its purchase. If you fail to make your payments (default) or commit some other serious breach of the sales contract or loan agreement, the creditor may repossess the collateral. Repossession is a self- help remedy; that is, under the proper circumstances the creditor does not need a court order to seize the collateral. The creditor then sells the property upon repossession to satisfy the debt. You are still responsible to pay the difference between the resale of the property and the remainder of the debt. The exception to this rule is the foreclosure on a primary residence, house, or mobile home where the debtor does not have to pay the deficiency.



The creditor must repossess without breaching the peace. He cannot break into your home or commit other acts amounting to trespass. He cannot use or threaten to use violence. If you are present at the attempted repossession and the creditor seizes your property, despite your clear protests, he is breaching the peace. The repossession is illegal. You do not have to resist violently. Just forcefully state your objection.

Law enforcement officers cannot assist the creditor in making a repossession. A threat to "come back with the sheriff" is an empty threat. A distinction is in order here. Law enforcement officers can seize property for a creditor with a court order. If the creditor has a court order, peacefully relinquish the collateral.

Suppose a creditor attempts to repossess your car. You protest. He leaves without the car to avoid a breach of the peace. Unless you pay your debt quickly, your victory is probably a temporary one. The creditor can still repossess your vehicle anytime you leave it unattended in a public place. One protest does not completely terminate the creditor's repossession rights. If you do manage to completely frustrate the attempted repossession, the creditor can still get the collateral by obtaining a judgment and a court order. Unless you dispute the amount owed, or if you believe you can pay your bill soon, it is often in your best interest to allow repossession of the collateral.



If your automobile is repossessed, there are certain statutory requirements that the person or institution repossessing your car must fulfill before the repossession is valid and the deficiency amount still owing is collectible. The following is a summary of Hawaii law which must be followed by the repossessing agency.

The repossessing agent must give you written notice.

The notice of sale must tell you how much you will have to pay to get your car back. It must also tell you where you can pick your car up. You may have the right to reinstate the loan even if you have fallen behind in the payments.

The best rule, however, is not to wait until your car is repossessed. If you are having financial problems, try to get another buyer for your car, or call the bank or institution which has financed your car, if possible. Do not wait until it is too late.

Authority from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate is required for repossession on the Base.

Standard Operating Procedure for Repossession of Privately Owned Vehicles per Base Regulation 2002, Section 3, 1 June 2005

(1) In order to protect the legal rights of both the debtor and creditor and maintain peace and security aboard the Base, both voluntary and involuntary repossessions of personal property located onboard the Base will be coordinated through the Legal Assistance Office.

(2) The Officer in Charge or Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Legal Assistance Office shall act as the liaison between the creditor or his repossessing agent and the service member/debtor. All on-Base repossession actions shall be effected at a time and place directed by the Legal Assistance Office. This will be accomplished only after presentation of all appropriate legal documents by the creditor or repossessing agent. Repossession actions effected off-Base are not governed by this Order.

(3) Commanding officers shall immediately contact the Provost Marshal's Office to detain and escort off-Base any creditor or repossession agent who fails to have written authorization from the Legal Assistance Office in his possession. When in doubt, commanding officers should detain the individual and call the Office of the Provost Marshal to determine if the individual has obtained permission to come aboard the Base for the specific repossession action; then contact the Legal Assistance Office for further guidance.

(4) Marine Corps Base Hawaii will not assist in the repossession of vehicles owned by Marines or Sailors deployed or involved in military exercises which may materially affect their ability to participate in judicial proceedings.

(5) Representatives of any activity desiring to repossess privately owned vehicles located aboard the Base must comply with the following provisions:

(a) Notify the Legal Assistance Office concerning a possible repossession of the member's vehicle;

(b) Request that the member be sent to the Legal Assistance Office to discuss his or her rights with respect to repossession of personal property;

The Legal Assistance Office will ensure that the debt or obligation did not arise before the debtor entered military service. If the obligation was incurred before entering military service, the Legal Assistance office will deny all involuntary repossession efforts by the repossessing agent.

(c) If the member choose to voluntarily turn the vehicle over to the repossessing agent, they will do so at the parking lot of Building 215, Legal Services Center.

This Order does not apply to voluntary repossessions consummated at the creditor's place of business -- off Base.

(d) The repossessing agent will obtain a visitor's pass at the Pass House at the H-3 Gate, MCB Hawaii, or building 601, Camp Smith. The Provost Marshal's Office will issue a pass to permit the repossessing agent to proceed to the Legal Services Center, building 215, MCB Hawaii or building 601, Camp Smith.

(e) Legal Assistance Office will ensure that copies of the following documents are provided by the repossessing agent prior to repossession of the vehicle (i) Title; (ii) Contract; (iii) Statement of default from the loan/credit company; (iv) Authority to repossess from the loan/credit company; (v) Repossession agent's name, business address, telephone number and organization (license); (vi) Court order (mandatory in case of involuntary repossession).

(6) After ensuring that proper documentation is provided, a repossession authorization form will be completed, original and 2 copies. The Original will be given to the repossessing agent; one copy will be given to the Office of the Provost Marshal; and one copy will be retained at the Legal Assistance Office.

(7) If the repossession is involuntary, the following guidelines will apply:

(a) Authorizations are valid for 24 hours from the time it is issued. If additional time is required by the repossessing agent, they will return to the Legal Assistance Office to update their authorization.

(b) Repossessions will be permitted only between the hours of 0730 and 1800.

(c) The repossessing agent will be escorted to the site of the vehicle by a member of the Provost Marshal's Office; and the military policeman will conduct the following tasks:

Verify that the vehicle's identification or license number comports with the vehicle to be repossessed.

Remove all armed forces decals from the vehicle after recording the data appearing on them.

Record a description of the vehicle's physical condition at the time of towing, noting any apparent defects or damage.

Record the location on the Base from which the vehicle is removed.

Take into custody any property present in or on the vehicle which appears to belong to the government or to the owner of the vehicle and which can be obtained without damaging the vehicle. Any such property shall be released to a representative of the unit to which the vehicle's owner is attached.

Once the above actions have been accomplished, the repossessing agent will be escorted off the Base by a military policeman.

(8) The facts recorded in connection with any vehicle repossession on the Base shall be submitted in the form of a report classified as "Vehicle Repossession", such report to be maintained on file at Provost Marshal's Office as an aid to personnel attempting to locate their privately owned vehicles and as a means of clearing reports of motor vehicle theft in which the vehicle has been repossessed vice stolen.

(9) The decision to deny permission to repossess a vehicle on board the Base shall be made at the Legal Assistance Office and that fact shall be recorded along with the surrounding circumstances and the basis upon which such denial was based. The unavailability of military police personnel due to other commitments does constitute grounds to postpone or cancel the repossession.



Once any property is repossessed, you may still have an opportunity to "redeem" it from the creditor. To redeem repossessed property you must pay:

1. The entire debt secured by the property, unless the creditor agrees otherwise;
2. Expenses incurred by the creditor making the repossession; and
3. The creditor's reasonable attorney's fees and legal expenses.



Few debtors are in a financial position to redeem their property. Usually the creditor "forecloses" on the collateral. There are two types of foreclosure:

1. Strict Foreclosure: The creditor gives you 21 days notice that he intends to keep the collateral in satisfaction of your debt. If you do not object, the creditor keeps the collateral and your obligation is ended. If the collateral is worth significantly more than the debt you owe, you should object to the strict foreclosure.

2. Foreclosure by Sale: The creditor gives you notice that he will sell the collateral. If he receives more than you owe, he must give the remainder back to you. If sale of the collateral yields less than your debt, the creditor can require you to pay the amount of the deficiency. You may end up making payments on something you no longer own.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii