The laws on drinking and driving in Japan were recently strengthened, increasing the punishment depending on the amount of alcohol the driver has consumed. If the driver has consumed enough alcohol to impair normal driving ability, he or she may be punished with confiscation of the driver’s license and imprisonment of up to 5 years or a fine of up to 1,000,000 yen. Breath alcohol content of a lower level will also result in revoking the driver’s license and imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Japanese law also has a lower standard than other countries for how much blood alcohol content constitutes intoxication so it is best to avoid driving whenever you have consumed alcohol.
Furthermore, in Japan, penalties for drunk driving extend even to friends or others that aid and abet the crime by providing alcohol or a vehicle to someone that is likely to drive drunk. The maximum punishment for providing a vehicle to a driver who has consumed alcoholic drinks can be a fine up to 1,000,000 yen. Providing alcohol to someone likely to drive under the influence of alcohol can be punished by a fine up to 500,000 yen.
Under Japanese law, even intentionally soliciting a ride from someone you know has consumed alcoholic drinks can lead to a fine. Depending on how much alcohol the driver of the car has consumed, the passenger could be punished with a fine of up to 300,000 yen in cases of low levels of alcohol, or up to 500,000 yen when the driver is drunk.
If you have any questions about traffic laws in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.