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Okinawa-based Marine charged with driving drunk

An Okinawa-based Marine was arrested and charged with drunken driving after he drove down a one-way street in the wrong direction and collided with an oncoming motorcycle, Japanese police said Wednesday.

The incident is the latest in an embarrassing string of alcohol-related incidents that have plagued U.S. forces since two sailors allegedly gang raped a Japanese woman on Okinawa in October, leading to an 11 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew for all servicemembers in Japan.

Most of the incidents have occurred on Okinawa, the small island prefecture where more than half of U.S. servicemembers in the country are based. The curfew was extended until 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve on the mainland but was left unchanged on Okinawa.

The crash occurred in Naha city about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, police said. Lance Cpl. Eric Lopez, 24, from Camp Kinser, was seen on Okinawan newscasts smiling while talking with police shortly after the crash, with obvious damage to the front of his vehicle. He was then shown being put into a Japanese police cruiser.

A 54-year-old man sustained minor injuries in the crash, police said. Lopez’s blood alcohol content was 0.7 milligrams per liter, more than four times the legal limit of 0.15 milligrams.

The case was referred Monday to the Naha Public Prosecutor’s Office, and Lopez was handed over to command custody, police officials said. Marine Corps officials confirmed the arrest and said they were cooperating with Japanese police.

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