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Japanese police have arrested two U.S. Marines on Okinawa in separate drunken driving incidents involving collisions since Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Japanese police have arrested two U.S. Marines on Okinawa in separate drunken driving incidents involving collisions since Wednesday, March 30, 2022. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese police have arrested two U.S. Marines on Okinawa in separate drunken driving incidents involving collisions since Wednesday.

Sgt. Austin Patton, 24, of Camp Hansen, and Gunnery Sgt. Edward Toppen, 37, of Camp Kinser, both admitted driving under the influence, though Toppen denied hitting another vehicle, police spokesmen told Stars and Stripes by phone on Monday. No one was injured in either incident.

Police took Patton into custody shortly after 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, an Ishikawa police spokesman said Monday. Patton rear-ended a truck while driving a Suzuki Jimmy south on Route 329 in Kin town, the spokesman said.

A breath test measured Patton’s blood-alcohol content at 0.09%, three times Japan’s legal limit of 0.03%, the spokesman said. By comparison, all 50 U.S. states have set 0.08% as the legal limit for driving under the influence or driving while impaired.

Police referred Patton’s case to prosecutors; he was released pending trial, the spokesman said.

Naha police stopped Toppen around 5:40 a.m. Sunday on northbound Route 58 in Urasoe after a hit-and-run was reported 10 minutes earlier at the Minato 2 crossing in Naha city, a department spokesman said. Toppen’s car fit the description of the hit-and-run vehicle, he said.

Toppen’s blood-alcohol content measured 0.06%, the spokesman said. He was still in custody Monday at Naha Police Station.

Government spokespeople in Japan typically speak to the media on condition of anonymity as a condition of their employment.

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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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