Traffic Offences and Demerit Points

Information on traffic offences and the demerit points system in Japan. Also details about the drink driving regulations...

For driving offences Japan has a strict demerit points system. Points are awarded to people who commit offences and driving licences are revoked or suspended should an individual accrue a certain number of points. The number of points given depends on the offence committed. Traffic offences are split into two categories:

  1. Specific Traffic Offences.
  2. Common Traffic Offences.

Specific Traffic Offences are more serious and carry a larger number of points. Demerit points remain on an individual's licence for three years. Licences are revoked and suspended as follows:

  • If 6 points are accumulated a driving licence is suspended for 30 days. The period of suspension can be reduced if the offender attends a lecture by the public safety commission
  • If 15 points are accumulated a driving licence is revoked for 1 year. After the ban is lifted an individual may apply for a new licence from scratch

It should be noted that the exact details of driving punishments depend on an individual's past driving record - specifically the number of offences they have committed in the preceding three years.

  • For more information on the demerit points system in Japan: Click here

Drink Driving

As drink driving has developed into a social issue in Japan the punishment for it has become increasingly severe. There is no minimum amount of alcohol intake that is acceptable when driving, although legally the limit is 0.15mg of alcohol per litre of breath. The attitude within Japanese society is that one should not drive after drinking any alcohol. Drunkenness can be judged by an inability to drive safely or by a driver's condition; for example, if the driver is unsteady or red-faced. People can also face punishment for assisting drink driving by providing alcohol or a vehicle, thus allowing an individual to drive after drinking, or for being in a car with a drunk driver. Punishments for drink driving offences can be severe and include large fines, demerit points and jail terms. Prison sentences for drink driving can include hard labour.