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Cops targeting izakayas to reduce drunk driving

Date Posted: 2006-10-19

Izakaya owners across Okinawa are getting letters from police warning them to make sure drinking patrons don’t drive later.

Okinawa police, frustrated over rising drunk driving incidents, have stepped up the campaign to keep the keys away from drinking drivers. The letter warning campaign has been around since 2004, but is being used more to tell izakaya owners to watch the customers more closely, and make sure they don’t drive after drinking. The letters suggest encouraging owners to insist drinking customers use taxis or daikou services.

Through September, police have made arrests in 6,964 drunk driving incidents. Warning cases were issued to 3,373. “Izakayas and customers should be tied together to protect both the drinkers and others in the community,” a police spokesman says. “Otherwise, the drunken driver accidents will never go away.

Police are now questioning drivers who’ve been stopped for drunk driving, and asking what izakaya they’ve been patronizing. Prefecture Police then send letters of advice to the owners. Eighty-five letters were issued in September alone.

Nago City was most frequently cited, with 21 cases and letters, with Uruma City and Tomishiro City each having nine cases cited.

The police want owners to ask “how did you get to the restaurant?” and “are you going to drive a car after this?” If the customer says yes, and rejects the suggestion of taking a taxi or daikou, “restaurant owners can’t sell them drinks.”

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