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Effective Dec. 1, all hearings originally scheduled for South Kohala District Court will be held at the Keahuolu Courthouse (Kona) or Hale Kaulike Courthouse (Hilo). For assistance, call 808-322-8700 (Keahuolu) or 808-961-7470 (Hale Kaulike) or email: skohalafc.3cc@courts.hawaii.gov.

A First: Virtual DWI Court Graduation

Posted on Oct 30, 2020 in Featured News, News & Reports

Man proposing to lady.Poignant reflections by the graduates and a marriage proposal highlighted the first virtual DWI (Driving While Impaired) Court graduation ceremony.

Presiding Judge Alvin K. Nishimura acknowledged the accomplishments of three participants who completed both program requirements and substance use disorder treatment, during the Oct. 8 ceremony.

The DWI Court Program is a court-supervised comprehensive treatment program for impaired driving offenders. The program includes regular court appearances, frequent case management meetings, electronic alcohol monitoring, drug testing, attendance at self-help meetings, and participation in a treatment program. Participants are also provided with additional support services to assist with education, employment, housing, and other personal goals which contribute to success in recovery.

DWI Court graduate holding certificate.The COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges that required the program and its participants to adapt. Holding a virtual graduation ceremony was one of the adjustments the DWI Court Program made to continue operation, encourage community engagement, and provide peer support among its participants. In addition, it allowed community partners to observe and celebrate with the graduates.

Special guests included representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who watched from California, Hawaii Department of Transportation, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Hawaii Chapter.

During the ceremony the graduates had the opportunity to reflect on their time in the program. They all had one thing in common —the road to graduation day was arduous. They each shared how they struggled at the beginning of the program and expressed that although they have come such a long way, this day represented the start of their lifelong journey in recovery.

Judge Alvin Nishimura.In closing, DWI Court Judge Alvin Nishimura remarked that “even before I came on the calendar…I heard about the three of you. I heard about the struggles you went through and I heard about the change that took place in your lives.” Judge Nishimura went on to explain that “even though I didn’t get to know you at the beginning of your journey, I’m glad to be a part of the final chapter here in DWI Court. I am so very proud of all of you.”

As the proceedings concluded, one of the graduates began to express his gratitude to those who have been helped him make these positive changes in his life. After thanking his girlfriend for all of her support, he got down on one knee and proposed to her. She accepted as he placed his grandmother’s ring on her finger. It was an unexpected and fitting way for all the graduates to see there is hope for the future.