Under Japan’s new drink-driving laws which permit the police to fine passengers, not just the driver, the first passenger to be so charged was sentenced to a JPY250,000 in Sendai District Court.

The passenger was fined on the basis that he asked his drunk friend to drive him home while knowing that the driver was drunk. As a result, the driver slammed into a walking group of high schoolers, and killed three of them. The driver has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

BTW, Japanese law applies to all of those who fall under the Status of Forces Agreement–military, civilian employees, contractors and family members, said the major. 

“The SOFA requires that we obey the law,” he said. “If a SOFA-status person is caught driving under the influence off-base, that person will be prosecuted by Japanese authorities.” 

Highlights of new Japanese traffic laws: 

1. Driving Under the Influence, BAC .08 or higher 

Previous maximum sentence: Imprisonment with hard labor not to exceed 3 years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 yen 

New maximum: Imprisonment with hard labor not to exceed 5 years or fine not exceeding 1,000,000 yen. 

2. Driving While Impaired, BAC .03 to .79 

Previous maximum sentence: Imprisonment with hard labor not to exceed 1 year or a fine not exceeding 300,000 yen 

New maximum: Imprisonment with hard labor not to exceed 3 years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 yen 

3. Providing an intoxicated person with a vehicle (new law) 

Maximum sentence: Same punishment as a drunken driver receives shall be applied. 

4. Providing a person with alcohol who subsequently gets a DUI or DWI (new law) 

Maximum sentence: Imprisonment with hard labor not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 yen for DUI; 2 years imprisonment, 300,000 yen fine for DWI 

5. Riding as passengers in a vehicle operated by an intoxicated person (new law) 

Maximum sentence: Imprisonment with hard labor not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 yen for DUI; 2 years imprisonment, 300,000 yen fine for DWI 

6. Rejecting balloon (sobriety) test 
Previous maximum punishment: Fine not exceeding 300,000 yen 

New maximum: Confinement not exceeding 3 months or fine not exceeding 500,000 yen

7. Hit and run 

Previous maximum sentence: Confinement not exceeding 5 years or fine not exceeding 500,000 yen 

New maximum: Confinement not exceeding 10 years or fine not exceeding 1,000,000 yen 

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