DUI Arrest In Okinawa Leads to U.S. Military Drinking Ban

The arrest of one person for DUI in Los Angeles usually affects several people: the driver, his/her family and his/her coworkers (if the driver ends up spending time in jail).  If the driver causes injury or death, the victim’s family also feels the pain. But a single DUI arrest generally does not impact the entire city or state.okinawa-DUI-losangeles

On the island of Okinawa, Japan, however, an American sailor’s arrest is having a very large effect on the 19,000 U.S. military personnel stationed there. According to the New York Times, Japanese police are holding Petty Officer Aimee Mejia, age 21, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Mejia allegedly crossed the center line of a highway on the island and struck two other vehicles, hurting a 35-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man.

As a result of the DUI incident, which occurred on June 4th, the U.S. military brass have banned all drinking for its service members in Japan and have confined those on Okinawa to base.

The incident occurred just a month after the Japanese police filed murder charges against a former Marine who was working at the U.S. base. After that arrest, the U.S. military ordered a 30-day nighttime curfew for military personnel stationed on Okinawa and a prohibition on drinking in public.

Japan’s DUI laws are stricter than U.S. laws. For one thing, they define DUI as having a blood alcohol content of just .03 percent. Plus, it’s not just the drivers who face charges; police can arrest passengers as well for letting drivers get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

While the penalties prescribed for DUI offenses under California Vehicle Code 23152(a) may not be a severe as those in Japan—drivers in the Golden State can get probation for a first offense—they do apply to people of any nationality picked up for the offense.

What should you do if you or someone you love faces a serious DUI count? Will you go to jail? Will you lose your license? Call Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer Michael Kraut immediately to understand your options and craft a strategic response.

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