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10/10/23-THREE DLNR DIVISIONS SET TO IMPLEMENT CIVIL RESOURCE VIOLATION SYSTEM
News Release from DLNR, Oct. 10, 2023
(HONOLULU) – A trio of divisions under the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources are set to begin a three-month-long pilot project which allows state conservation enforcement resource officers to issue tickets and/or fines on the spot for violations of rules.
Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) will have the ability to write civil citations for rules violations on lands under the jurisdiction of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR).
Known as a Civil Resource Violation System (CRVS), it is another tool for DLNR’s enforcement. Like enforcement actions taken through Board of Land and Natural Resources action, CRVS penalties are civil and carry non-criminal penalties. The “toolbox” also contains criminal actions the DLNR can take, such as the physical arrest of violators, or the issuance of criminal citations which carry criminal penalties. Criminal penalties and board actions can result in high fines or jail time, so these penalties are often ordered for egregious violations.
CRVS functions like a traffic ticket. DOCARE officers issue a ‘Notice of Violation” to a suspected violator, who can respond in one of three ways:
- Admits the violation and pays the fine.
- Admits the violation, with mitigating circumstances and waits for a response from the CRVS hearing officer.
- Contests the violation and waits for a hearing notice from the CRVS hearing officer.
The system is unique from pursuing cases through the criminal justice system in that violations are processed by the DLNR Administrative Proceedings Office, rather than going through the district court system. Fines are collected in a Special Fund account rather than being deposited in the State General Fund. Considered a civil fine, the Standard of Proof is lower.
DLNR expects to fully deploy CRVS in February 2024. The three-month pilot will provide time for DOCARE officers to be trained, develop guidance for office discretion, and other protocols.
“Our information shows that Hawai‘i is the third state to implement a CRVS, after Vermont and Oregon. We expect the civil violation system will provide our DOCARE officers with greater latitude in addressing resource violations; will reduce the amount of time they need to be in court and away from the field; and let violators know immediately the penalties for violating natural and cultural resources laws and rules and give them an opportunity to immediately settle their cases,” said DLNR Chair Dawn Chang.
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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)