Back to LCJ homeAbout UsYour PageContact English TreeEnglish Tree Company PolicyVisit the Business PortalVisit our English School Site
General Living

Anyone living in Japan for any length of time knows that drink driving laws are strict. In fact, despite there being a permissible level of alcohol content in your system while driving, it is so low that having one drink can easily put you into ‘driving under the influence’ territory; or over 0.15mg/l. Of course people can be tempted to run the risk of making it home without getting caught but there are some very good reasons why you should reconsider.

1. Public transport is so easily available in the central areas it is, not only much safer, but cheaper too.
2. The amount of money you will have to pay and the legal consequences you could face are enormous. For driving while drunk (determined by slurred speech and the inability to walk in a straight line, etc) you can receive a maximum of 3 years in jail or up to a \500,000 fine. For driving under the influence (defined by a 0.15mg/l or more blood alcohol content) you can receive up to 1 year in jail or up to a \300,000 fine.
3. If the police believe your passengers have knowledge that you were intoxicated at the time you were caught for the offence, they can be classed as accomplices and may be subject to fine.
4. 7,702 people died on the roads in Japan in 2004; a significant number of those, alcohol related.

At this point, I would like to make mention of another important consideration. Contrary to urban myth, having an International Driving Permit does NOT give you any special privileges or leverage with the police. The same penalties apply to International Drivers license holders.

Let’s face it, not having to worry about the prospect of being caught by the police or killed in an accident will only make your time out so much more enjoyable.

On the phone

So drink driving is perilous, but what about operating a mobile phone while driving? It is the opinion of some that operating a mobile phone whilst driving is comparable to being drunk and at the wheel. This has now been reflected in Japanese law, in a safety measure introduced on the 1st of November, 2004, banning the practice. Drivers breaking this can be fined anywhere from 5,000 yen to 7,000 yen. Now if you’re thinking that the chances of being caught are slim consider this: on the first day the law was in effect over 3,500 drivers were caught and subsequently fined.
So if you’re contemplating answering a phone call, dialing, mailing or chatting to your friend whilst driving; think twice. It might cost you a pretty penny but more importantly it might cost you or someone else, life.

This has been your Japanese Law update.