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'It's unacceptable': traffic deaths, impaired driving arrests on the rise in Maui County, police say

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Maui DUI checkpoint

So far this year, 15 people have died on Maui roads a 150% increase from last year, more than half involved speed and alcohol.

MAUI COUNTY, Hawaii (KITV4) -- Tuesday marked three years since 19-year-old Hannah Brown was killed after a drunk driver collided into the car she was in on Kuihelani Highway in Kahului.

Brown's parents said their grief has not subsided since.  

"Everyday we cry still, we wonder what life would be like if she were still here," mother Charlene Brown said.

"We miss her so much."

The pain of losing their daughter motivated Charlene and her husband Everett to advocate against drunk driving. 

In 2019, Hannah was among 21 others who also lost their lives on Maui roads. 

So far this year, 15 people died -- a 150 percent increase from last year -- and more than half involved speed and alcohol. 

"We haven't quite hit pre-pandemic levels, thank God," Maui Police Department Lieutenant William Hankins said. 

"It's climbing back up again and it's unacceptable."

MPD launched its third annual "Hannah Brown Memorial Impaired Driving Awareness Checkpoint" Wednesday evening to discourage drunk driving this holiday season. 

Impaired driving arrests have increased 22 percent this year from last. 

"In the 30 years that I've been doing this I've never seen where impaired driving arrests go up and the fatal crashes go up," Hankins added. 

The lieutenant believes residents have picked up bad driving habits due to the stresses of the pandemic. 

"We're hoping that as things ease up that that'll disappear, but before that happens, everybody needs to really take a step back, get back to driving with aloha and understand that we all play a role in safe driving," Hankins requested. 

The Browns echoed Hankins' plea, adding drunk driving deaths are 100 percent preventable. 

"MPD is not out there to make a quota, as so people say. They're putting their lives on danger by being out there as well, spending time away from their families," Charlene said. 

"Let's all help as one big community. Let's all be pono together."

Other police departments statewide are also launching safety campaigns to curb impaired driving. 

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