YOKOSUKA, Japan — USS Kitty Hawk sailor Rickey Ray Williams Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to a spate of driving charges, including driving without a license, driving under the influence, and hit and run.

The petty officer third class admitted in Yokohama District Court in Yokosuka that on Jan. 14, he took his Navy supervisor’s car without permission, drove to a club, drank beer, and hit a Japanese man’s car on the road en route to another club.

“I didn’t think the whole situation through,” the 20-year-old Williams said. “I didn’t think anything would happen.”

Williams testified Tuesday that he helped his supervisor move, and then took his car without asking. He went to Club Geodana, in Yokosuka’s Honch district, to pick up a friend and ended up having five beers at the bar.

His friend was “in no shape to drive, much less walk” so Williams decided to drive to another club, he said. He changed lanes about three- quarters of a mile from Geodana and his vehicle struck Yuichi Washikita’s car.

After impact, Williams kept driving while Washikita honked his horn to get him to stop. Washikita got in front of Williams, blocked his path with the car and called police.

Police put Williams’s blood alcohol content at over .15 milligrams per liter. In Japan, the minimum BAC level at which a driver can be charged with driving under the influence is .03 milligrams, compared with .08 in the most of the United States.

Williams admitted he knew driving under the influence and without a license — whether in Japan or the United States — was illegal. But he said he had “forgotten” to take the class offered at Yokosuka Naval Base.

Williams paid about $1,425 to repair the damage done to Washikita’s car and gave his supervisor $300 to have his car “junked,” he said.

The public prosecutor recommended five months imprisonment. Defense lawyer Midori Tanaka asked for no jail time. Williams is scheduled for sentencing March 22 at 1 p.m.

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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