Unlicensed drivers face tougher penalties with the partial implementation of the revised road traffic law on Sunday.
Under the revised law, passed in June, unlicensed drivers face a prison term of up to three years or a fine of up to ¥500,000. Previously, the maximum jail term was 12 months and the biggest fine was ¥300,000.
People who compel or allow unlicensed people to drive face the same penalties, as do those who rent vehicles to them.
Passengers are also subject to a prison term of up to two years or a fine of up to ¥300,000. Before the revision, the law didn’t clearly ban riding with an unlicensed driver.
The tougher penalties were introduced in response to an accident in April 2012 in which 10 people, including elementary school children, were killed or injured by an unlicensed 18-year-old driver in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture. He had borrowed the car from a friend.
Last year, unlicensed drivers caused 2,414 accidents resulting in death or injury, the National Police Agency said.