Police said Saturday that two men arrested in Fukuoka on Friday are the first suspects to be arrested under the prefecture's new, harsher penalties for drunk driving offenses.
The new penalties are part of a long-term plan to eradicate the practise of driving under the influence of alcohol in the prefecture, Sankei Shimbun reported.
Fukuoka Prefecture has been running a high-profile anti-drink driving campaign since August 2006, when a 22-year-old man drove his vehicle into the back of an SUV containing a family of five. The collision pushed the SUV through a bridge railing, and the vehicle plunged into Hakata Bay. The two parents survived with minor injuries, but their three children, aged 4, 3 and 1, died.
Further initiatives were tested to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. In May 2012, all Fukuoka city employees were ordered to abstain from drinking any alcohol for a month by Mayor Soichiro Takashima, after a scandal involving two city officials.
In August, Fukuoka Prefecture announced a comprehensive drink driving prevention plan that aims to eliminate the number of traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers. The new plan, based on the prefectural government ordinance on elimination of drunk driving, means that drivers arrested for driving under the influence are obliged to attend programs and watch videos designed to deter future offenses.
The plan also urges educational institutions, such as schools and universities, to discourage acceptance of underage drinking and help prevent drunken driving.
Meanwhile, according to city officials, more than 250 alcohol-related traffic accidents occurred in Fukuoka in 2011, Fuji TV reported. The local government plans to reduce accidents in the prefecture to less than 180 by 2014 by imposing stricter punishments on offenders. The penalties also include jail terms and alcoholism checks for repeat offenders.
Under the new regulations, establishments that serve alcoholic beverages could be fined up to 50,000 yen and have their names made public if they fail to adequately uphold public safety commission regulations.
However, some restaurant owners have expressed the opinion that some of the rules, such as that obliging establishments to ask all customers who are drinking alcohol if they came by car, are difficult to enforce.© Japan Today