Kadena airman avoids jail time following drunken hit-and-run on Okinawa
Stars and Stripes November 28, 2023
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A U.S. airman accused of a drunken hit-and-run crash last month on Okinawa has been fined about $2,000 by a Japanese court after prosecutors requested a summary judgment.
Tech Sgt. Porter Smith-munroe, 35, of Kadena Air Base, was arrested at Koza Music Town in Okinawa city around 12:40 a.m. Oct. 7, about an hour after he struck a taxi with his car and fled the scene, an Okinawa police spokesman said by phone Oct. 10.
He was found guilty of drunken driving on Nov. 8 in Naha Summary Court and fined about $2,000, a Naha District Court spokeswoman said by phone Monday. She declined to provide further details of the proceedings.
A spokesman for Naha District Public Prosecutors Office declined to say Monday why Smith-munroe was not charged with the hit and run.
To avoid a trial, Japanese prosecutors will sometimes ask for a summary judgment in minor cases where the facts are not in dispute. Suspects must agree to initiate proceedings and can opt for a trial at any time.
Smith-munroe was eastbound on Koza Gate Street, just outside Kadena’s Gate 2, in a black Nissan X-Trail when he struck the taxi, the police spokesman said. He then drove about 600 feet before pulling into an alley.
The taxi driver, whom police did not identify, followed the vehicle and called police when it stopped, the spokesman said. There were no injuries and both vehicles received only minor damage.
A Breathalyzer at the scene measured Smith-munroe’s blood-alcohol content at 0.12%, four times the legal limit for driving in Japan, the spokesman said. By comparison, all 50 U.S. states have set 0.08% as the legal limit for driving under the influence or while impaired.
Police forwarded charges of drunken driving and leaving the scene of a crash to prosecutors on Oct. 8, the spokesman said. Smith-munroe faced a maximum five years and three months in prison or a $7,000 fine.
He was indicted Nov. 8, the same day of the summary decision, the court spokeswoman said. Some Japanese officials are required to speak to the media only on the condition of anonymity.