Japan’s House of Councillors unanimously passed a law that would impose stricter penalties on reckless drivers involved in accidents where people will be injured or killed. They can face a maximum of 20 years in prison if found guilty. They new law, which will take effect in May 2014, also applies to motorcycle and scooter drivers.
The “law on penalties for injury or death inflicted by motor vehicle operators” will also include accidents caused by persons who are suffering from certain medical conditions. It also now encompasses those who hide their inebriated conditions by fleeing the scene of the accident. But the most important part of this new law is the fact that it expands what constitutes acts of dangerous driving that causes death. Those who are impaired while driving because of alcohol or drugs, those who are driving too fast that they could not hold a curve in the road and those who lack sufficient driving skills can receive the 20-year maximum sentence if convicted of the criminal offense. It has also added a new category of offense for driving too fast on closed roads. Some are interpreting the law as also including those who are driving counterflow on expressways and other similar violations.
Those who drive knowing that their medical condition can render them unconscious at any time, including epilepsey and schizophrenia, can face a sentence of up to 15 years. Those who flee accidents because they are inebriated and will later turn themselves in (of course, when the alcohol has been flushed out of their system already) can still receive a sentence of up to 12 years. The offense of “errors while operating a motor vehicle causing injury or death” which previously was under the Criminal Code and can only receive up to 7 years has now been moved into this new law and called “driving errors causing injury or death.” All of the mentioned offenses can receive lengthier sentences if the driver is caught without a license.
[ via Mainichi ]