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
Public transport is so easily available in the
central areas it is, not only much safer, but
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.
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
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.
has been your Japanese Law update.