Japanese police arrested a U.S. Marine over the weekend following a vehicle collision on Okinawa.

Japanese police arrested a U.S. Marine over the weekend following a vehicle collision on Okinawa. (Pixabay)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Japanese police say a U.S. Marine was driving under the influence of alcohol early Saturday when his car collided with another vehicle at a red light on Okinawa.

Police took Sgt. Artemio Sanchezbaltazar, 21, of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, into custody around 1:30 a.m. at the crash scene on Route 58 in Ginowan city, a Ginowan Police spokesman said by phone Monday.

No one was injured and Sanchezbaltazar was released from custody the next day, the spokesman said. Some government officials in Japan are required to speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

Sanchezbaltazar was southbound in the Mashiki area at 12:20 a.m. when his car struck from behind another vehicle slowing for a red light, the spokesman said. Both vehicles received only minor damage.

Three women in the other vehicle and two U.S. service members riding with Sanchezbaltazar were uninjured, the spokesman said. He declined to provide further information on the passengers and the types of vehicles involved in the crash.

Sanchezbaltazar’s blood-alcohol content, measured by a Breathalyzer, was 0.09% at the scene, three 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 sent the case against Sanchezbaltazar to prosecutors on Sunday.

If convicted of violating Japanese traffic law, Sanchezbaltazar faces a maximum five years in prison or a $7,000 fine. His passengers could face up to three years in prison or a $3,500 fine if convicted of allowing him to drive while intoxicated., Twitter: @MatthewMBurke1, Twitter: @MariHiga21

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Grafenwoehr, Germany, for Stars and Stripes since 2024. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Okinawa, Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the news organization. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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