Japan's parliament passed a law this week outlawing the operation of a drone while under the influence of alcohol. If authorities catch anyone flying an unmanned aerial vehicle while intoxicated, offenders will face up to a year in prison and a fine of 300,000 yen (roughly $2,763.00). 'We believe operating drones after consuming alcohol is as serious as (drink) driving,' a Japanese transport ministry official told the AFP news agency.

This latest legislation was passed to also address the growing popularity of drones coupled with the reckless and illegal activity taking place in the country's more tourist-friendly areas. Dangerous stunts, which have become more common, including quickly plunging a drone towards crowds, can result in a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($4,607).

Areas where drones are now banned include a distance within 985 feet of Japan's armed forces, U.S. military personnel, and 'defense-related facilities' without prior permission from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The new restrictions follow an earlier ban on approaching nuclear power plants, Japan's parliament buildings, and the prime minister's office. Stadiums and other sites hosting the forthcoming 2020 Olympic festivities are also off-limits.

The new law covers drones weighing more than 200g (close to half a pound). Operating a drone in Japan does not require a license. However, remote pilots much abide by a series of regulations including:

  • Staying below 150 meters (492 feet)
  • Avoiding airports
  • Avoiding crowded areas
  • Only flying during daylight
  • Keeping the drone in sight at all times

Anyone who is caught violating any of the established regulations could face a fine of up to 500,000 yen (or $4,607).