"Drunk droning" is as bad as driving, said one Japanese official. Photo: AFP/File
crime

Drunkenly operating a drone becomes a crime under new law

16 Comments
By Alex Wong

People in Japan operating drones under the influence could face up to a year in prison under a new law passed Thursday that aims to control the increasingly popular devices.

Drunkenly flying a drone weighing more than 200 grams could also result in a fine of up to 300,000 yen, after the lower house of the Diet passed the new legislation following a string of accidents.

Performing dangerous stunts with drones such as sharp plunges will also be subject to fines of up to 500,000 yen.

"We believe operating drones after consuming alcohol is as serious as (drink) driving," a transport ministry official told AFP.

The rules come as Japan sees a rising amount of drone usage as well as related accidents.

In 2017, an industrial-sized drone was deployed at a "robot festival" in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, and was supposed to shower small children with sweets.

But the device, operated by a qualified individual, injured six people after plunging 10 meters to the ground.

Japan has also had to confront issues with tourists flying drones in congested tourist areas like Kyoto.

Last month, Japan passed a set of laws to ban drones over Tokyo 2020 Olympic sites and U.S. military facilities, after banning them over key facilities like the Prime Minister's Office and the Imperial Palace.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
Login to comment

Welcome to the future. Drones are classified as motor vehicles and are now subject to the same laws as other motor vehicles.

Some drones can cause a lot of damage if they crash so aiming for safety is a good response.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Pushing a pram and riding a bicycle drunk are also illegal, but it doesn’t seem to stop anybody.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

So this is the best use of time lawmakers can think of? I can think of several more pressing issues they should address, but sadly passing laws drunk isn't illegal.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

But you can be uber drunk and not know your left to your right and fly a drone that’s 199 grams. Granted it would be hard to kill someone, but a poke in the eye ain’t fun.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I see the logic in this, operating anything mechanical under the influence of any substance is dangerous. How about being a nuisance on public transport while drunk? It seems more common

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Just curious if there has actually been a problem with drunken drone flying. Is this a super rare occasion where J-pols are being proactive?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Performing dangerous stunts with drones such as sharp plunges will also be subject to fines of up to 500,000 yen.

Define "dangerous stunt". That's a lotta gray area!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I like the effort made by the law, but I'm a bit worried that in time the government will go overboard by adding stringent exams and licenses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A few bad operators ruin it for the 99.9% who are responsible.

We all hate drones that buzz overhead harshing our mellow at the park. Heavy drones, 500g+, can be a safety issue, but lots and lots of ¥4,000 toys used like kites are being grouped with ¥40,000, much heavier machines.

Flying is more like being a musician than doing math. A slight buzz is helpful for smooth operations, IME. Only fly with a beer + picnic in nice open spaces, away from other humans.

I'm afraid that politicians are trying to apply commercial aircraft pilot rules to toys. Next, registration for all drones will be required, not just the larger versions, used by professionals. Then RC helicopters and RC planes, then those wire-guided planes that fly in circles. No end to well-intentioned laws. Just be responsible.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I bought my second drone recently, at the price I paid I’d be very reluctant to fly whilst under the influence for fear of losing the investment and secondly, the areas where I can fly without permits is off the beaten track so would be very difficult to police anyways...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Clearly dont fly your drone where the wind speeds can change dramatically, or be channeled such as between two high buildings.

Now if someone were to fly a drone up and down my area trying to video the inside of the houses here, I would be a bit upset. I wonder under such a situation whether I would have the right to take the drone out using whatever means I have available at the time - water, baseball, slingshot, shot-gun, etc.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How will this be enforced. Do the drones sway from side to side and wobble. A dead giveaway that the operator is under the influence. ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It’s negative press. They want to create a society where we all report on each other’s activities. That’s all this is about. Furthermore, the police want to be sure that they can arrest you for any reason, detain you for any reason. A guy in the middle of an open field bothering nobody is their target.

A brainwashed bureaucrat who follows every letter of the law to a T is a wannabe flash light cop looking for anybody he can bring misery to.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

mmwkdw said;

"...Now if someone were to fly a drone up and down my area trying to video the inside of the houses here, I would be a bit upset. I wonder under such a situation whether I would have the right to take the drone out using whatever means I have available at the time - water, baseball, slingshot, shot-gun, etc."

I don't know how Japanese law would address this but here in the states (I can't remember which one) an irate man used a shotgun to bring one down that was hovering over his property and was fined and forced to pay for a $1,800 drone. I personally think that was an unfair ruling.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

i am happy of this law, I am living in Kyoto and "certified pilot" with 2 drones, each: 6 props and 2kg!

I saw tons of people (90% tourists) flying over famous areas or in parks without respecting any rules...

now there is "no drone allowed" at many entrances of temples/shrines/parks, for those reasons

Droning is pretty serious when we know the density of population in Japan, as it can injure easily anyone!

Redtail Swift: seriously? you truly believe that trying to protect people from dumb accidents will bring japan to a dictat?

If nothing bad happened they will not take this kind of rules...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People in Japan operating drones under the influence could face up to a year in prison under a new law passed Thursday that aims to control the increasingly popular devices.

Drunkenly flying a drone weighing more than 200 grams could also result in a fine of up to 300,000 yen, after the lower house of the Diet passed the new legislation following a string of accidents.

Performing dangerous stunts with drones such as sharp plunges will also be subject to fines of up to 500,000 yen.

So this is the law they will focus on and pass? What about people driving with dementia? Elderly people who step on the gas instead of the brake? Changing the age definition of "MINOR" when it comes to crimes? How about laws against housing discrimination? Or any kind of discrimination for that fact?

While you're at it, why don't you make a law like "its against the law to operate a wheelbarrow whilst balancing a half open can of sprite on your head while wearing boots on a Monday"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites