Repeat DUI offender gets jail

Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen announced Friday that a Kona man, 64 year-old James Santiago, was sentenced to a prison term related to a January 2021 habitual DUI case. First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Frye argued for the maximum penalty, a five year prison sentence for the class C felony offense of Habitually Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of an Intoxicant (Habitual OVUII).

Santiago was charged with Habitual OVUII, as he was previously convicted of two or more prior OVUII offenses within 10 years of his January 2021 arrest. Review of the police reports indicate that Santiago was contacted by police after a routine traffic stop for speeding, where he was measured traveling at 68 mph in a 55 mph zone on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. Santiago displayed impairment in all three of the standardized field sobriety tests and later submitted to a breath alcohol test, where he registered 0.258 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, more than three times the legal limit.

On August 27th, Santiago appeared before Circuit Court Judge Robert Kim. After listening to arguments by both parties, Judge Kim found that the prison term was appropriate and imposed the maximum penalty. Santiago, who was on supervised release for the duration of the court proceedings, was ordered to be taken immediately into custody by deputy sheriffs.

“This sentencing communicates the seriousness of drinking and driving. HPD announced on Wednesday, that there have been 16 traffic fatalities and nearly a 16% increase in the number of DUI arrests this year. Our Office will continue to strive to hold these offenders accountable and make our roadways safer,” said Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen.

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