The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in Japan is relatively low compared with other countries around the world. It is highly recommended in Japan that drivers consume no alcohol at all, as even small amounts that might be considered “safe” in foreign countries may result in criminal penalties in Japan.
In many countries around the world, a driver’s level of intoxication is measured with the BAC (blood alcohol content) scale. On this scale, people generally begin to feel the effects of drinking alcohol at around a BAC of .03 to .05. Although most people can feel a “buzz” at a BAC of 0.5, In California and most American states, a driver is not considered legally intoxicated unless he or she has a BAC of at least .08.
However, in Japan the standard is much stricter. If you are pulled over in Japan and are found to have a BAC of .03 or above, you are considered legally intoxicated and guilty of drunk driving. For some people, a BAC of .03 is barely noticeable and can be brought on by having only one alcoholic drink so it is always safer to avoid alcohol entirely if you plan to drive.
Drunk driving is taken very seriously in Japan. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and injuring a third party can result in up to 15 years of imprisonment, with a mandatory sentence of at least 1 year in prison if the accident results in death.
If you have any questions about criminal law in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.