TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Changes to Traffic Laws in Japan

The latest Tsukuba City Hall Newsletter notes that there have been some recent changes to traffic law within Japan. These laws affect drivers of cars and bicycles, and also passengers in cars, so please read through them carefully.

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Several traffic laws changed on June 20, 2007 and will come into force within a certain amount of time after that date. For example, it will soon be mandatory for people to wear seatbelts in the back seats of cars, and fines and imprisonment terms for drunk drivers and people who do not stop drunk drivers from driving will be stiffened.

1. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

(These laws come into effect within three months of June 20.)

a. Rules Affecting the Driver

Drunk Driving
Old Law: Penalty of less than three years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine
New Law: Penalty of less than five years imprisonment or less than 1,000,000 yen fine

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
Old Law: Penalty of less than one year imprisonment or less than 300,000 yen fine
New Law: Penalty of less than three years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine

Refusing Breathalyser Test
Old Law: Penalty of less than 300,000 yen fine
New Law: Penalty of less than three years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine

b. Rules Affecting Accomplices to the Driver

Providing a Vehicle to Someone who Could be Under the Influence of Alcohol
Old Law: None
New Law: In the case of a drunk driver: Penalty of less than five years imprisonment or less than 1,000,000 yen fine
In the case of a driver under the influence of alcohol: Penalty of less than three years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine

Providing Alcohol to Someone who is Likely to Drive
Old Law: None
New Law: In the case of a drunk driver: Penalty of less than three years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine
In the case of a driver under the influence of alcohol: Penalty of less than two years imprisonment or less than 300,000 yen fine

Asking or Requesting Someone who is Known to be Under the Influence of Alcohol to Drive and Accompanying Him/Her in the Car
Old Law: None
New Law: In the case of a drunk driver: Penalty of less than three years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine
In the case of a driver under the influence of alcohol: Penalty of less than two years imprisonment or less than 300,000 yen fine

c. Rules About Hit and Run

Old Law: Penalty of less than five years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen fine
New Law: Penalty of less than ten years imprisonment or less than 1,000,000 yen fine

2. Laws Regarding Elderly Drivers

(These laws come into effect within one or two years of June 20.)

Drivers over 75 must take a test within six months prior to the expiry date of their license. (Comes into effect within two years.)

Drivers over 75 must display an “elderly driver” sign on their cars. Other drivers must not interfere with vehicles displaying such marks. (Comes into effect within one year.)

3. Laws Regarding Cyclists

(These laws come into effect within one year of June 20.)

In addition to sidewalks that are designated as open to bicycles, other sidewalks can be used by cyclists who are too young to use the road or who are forced to use the sidewalk because of road conditions.

Children must be told to wear helmets when riding bicycles.

4. Laws to Reduce Injuries

(These laws come into effect within one year of June 20.)

Drivers must ensure that passengers in the back seat use seat belts.

Sources: 広報つくば平成19年8月15日号:p4茨城県警察:道路交通法一部改正



2 Comments

  • Dan Waldhoff says:

    In my home town, HI USA last year a drunk driver was picked up, jailed and released four different times within a 24 hour span and two of those times were in unregistered, uninsured cars .He was also driving drunk with a suspended driving license. I prefer laws with teeth and their good enforcement. Lucky we live in Japan!

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