By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A Big Island police officer has been placed on administrative leave while facing charges of drunken driving and refusing a test for blood-alcohol content, police said.
Richard G. Carter Jr., 46, of Hilo, a 23-year veteran of the department and a patrol officer in the Ka‘u district, was arrested at 1:09 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of Kinoole and Haihai streets in Hilo on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant and refusing to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, according to police records. Carter was charged about an hour later. He was later released after posting $1,000 bail, $500 for each charge.
“He’s on administrative leave, pending investigation,” Assistant Police Chief Marshall Kanehailua said Wednesday. “And that’s per contract.”
Rank-and-file county police officers are unionized by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO).
Kanehailua said that officers who are arrested “are treated like any other citizen as far as the criminal case is concerned.”
“He is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, like any other individual who got arrested for DUI the same way,” Kanehailua said.
Carter is scheduled to appear Oct. 9 in Hilo District Court. If convicted on the DUI charge, he’ll have to undergo a substance abuse rehabilitation program, including education and counseling, or other comparable program deemed appropriate by the court. He could also have his license revoked for a year, but could be allowed to drive with an ignition interlock device, which would require him to breathe into a device that would measure him blood-alcohol content and prevent the engine from starting if the blood-alcohol content is 0.02 or higher. He could also face a fine of up to $1,000, community service, or a jail sentence of two to five days.
A person arrested for DUI who refuses a breath, urine or blood test could be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
The state’s legal threshold for intoxication is 0.08 blood-alcohol content.
Under the ignition interlock law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2011, people arrested for DUI have their license instantly revoked for 30 days, although arrestees are issued a 30-day temporary permit that allows them to get the device installed. The temporary permit is not issued to those who refuse a sobriety test.
According to Tribune-Herald archives, Carter was arrested and charged on Oct. 26, 2009, in Hilo on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Kanehailua said that Carter refused to undergo field sobriety or blood alcohol content tests during that arrest, as well. Court records indicate that the 2009 DUI charge was not prosecuted.
Carter is from a prominent police family. His late father, Richard “Dickie” Carter Sr., was involved in the investigation, arrest and conviction of organized-crime figure Henry Huihui, and was named the state’s police officer of the year in 1984.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.