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A Nissan X-Trail belonging to Air Force Tech. Sgt. Porter Smith-munroe is impounded at a police lot in Okinawa city, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023.

A Nissan X-Trail belonging to Air Force Tech. Sgt. Porter Smith-munroe is impounded at a police lot in Okinawa city, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Mari Higa/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese police held a U.S. airman from Kadena Air Base over the weekend on suspicion of drunken driving, colliding with a taxi and leaving the scene just outside an air base gate.

Tech Sgt. Porter Smith-munroe, 35, was arrested around 12:40 a.m. Saturday at Koza Music Town in Okinawa city, just outside Kadena’s Gate 2, a spokesman for the Okinawa police station said by phone Tuesday. Police allege Smith-munroe struck a taxi and fled the scene an hour earlier.

No one was injured in the crash and both vehicles received only minor damage, the spokesman said. Some Japanese officials are required to speak to the media only on the condition of anonymity.

According to Okinawa police, Smith-munroe was eastbound on Koza Gate Street in a black Nissan X-Trail when he struck the taxi. He drove about 600 feet before pulling into an alley.

The taxi driver, whom police did not identify, followed the X-Trail and called police when it stopped, the spokesman said.

A Breathalyzer at the scene measured Smith-munroe’s blood alcohol content at 0.12%, four times the legal limit for driving in Japan, a prefectural police spokesman said by phone Tuesday. By comparison, all 50 U.S. states have set 0.08% as the legal limit for driving under the influence or while impaired.

Smith-munroe was released Monday, one day after his case was forwarded to prosecutors, the police spokesman said. No court date has been set in the case.

Kadena’s 18th Wing acknowledged receipt of an email Tuesday seeking additional information on the airman but did not immediately respond.

If convicted, Smith-munroe faces a maximum five years and three months in prison or a $7,000 fine.

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Mari Higa is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in 2021. She previously worked as a research consultant and translator. She studied sociology at the University of Birmingham and Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of Social Sciences.
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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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