HONOLULU — A Hawaii state lawmaker is promising action after a Fourth of July “floatilla” ocean party resulted in the hospitalization of 10 people for intoxication and injuries related to alcohol, including a 19-year-old woman in critical condition.
Chair of the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Rep. Kaniela Ing said Wednesday it is time for the legislature to step in.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for someone to actually die before we take action,” Ing said at a news conference. “Once you step into the water, it’s technically legal for you to drink alcohol. . Why is it not OK to drink on the beach, but it is OK to drink as soon as you step into the water? That makes no practical sense and it’s endangering the lives now of many young people.”
According to Hawaii law, a minor cannot consume, purchase or have liquor in any public place, public beach, public park, or in any motor vehicle on a public highway, KHON-TV reported (http://bit.ly/2sQ33gQ ).
That does not include in the water.
Ing said he plans to discuss the issue with House and Senate leadership, and introduce a bill that would close the legal loophole and make it illegal for all swimmers to be drinking in the water.
“We’re not trying to impede on anyone’s fun,” he said. “I’m a young guy. I’m all for having fun responsibly, but this has crossed a line repeatedly where (it’s) actually littering our beaches and endangering people’s lives.”
Ing said it is possible the issue could be addressed during an upcoming special session.
Meanwhile, the Honolulu Police Department said it is investigating six people for underage drinking from Tuesday’s incidents.
“It’s difficult for us (to enforce),” Lt. Eric Yosemori said. “We need to observe the violation. In this case, it was the end result where the juveniles were already intoxicated.”
Yosemori said there is nothing Honolulu police can do out in the water, it’s out of their jurisdiction.