Don’t Drink and Drone in Japan


Responsible UAV operation is one of those topics that is going to come up again and again as drones become increasingly popular for photography and other things.

Photo by Roman Koval from Pexels.

And Japan is taking this new market segment very seriously with a recent law passed by parliament that targets drone operators.

A new law in Japan makes it illegal to drone under the influence of alcohol and the punishment for such an offense is no joke at all: If found drinking and droning while in Japan, the accused could face as much as a year in prison according to multiple reports.

That sounds pretty harsh, but it joins a litany of laws aimed at regulating drone usage and the people who pilot drones.

The AFP reports that a rep from the Japanese Ministry of Transportation official said, “We believe operating drones after consuming alcohol is as serious as (drink) driving.”

Of course, going to jail isn’t the only punishment and it’s far from the only option at the disposal of law enforcement authorities. PetaPixel reports that drinking and flying a drone weighing 500g could get a fine of $USD 2,750 and some possible jail time. As DPReview points out, all of this is in addition to other laws regulating drone use in Japan with most punishments being pretty hefty fines.

Typically our stories focus on keeping drones away from sensitive areas and identifying them and taking them down if they violate these areas. It’s pretty rare that we have such a specific law about UAV pilots themselves. What do you think? Is this kind of law necessary? Is operating a drone under the influence of alcohol as serious as driving under the influence? As always, let us know your opinion in the comments below.


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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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