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Thread: Unlicensed driving on IDP

  1. #1

    Default Unlicensed driving on IDP

    So, my dreams of owning and driving a bike seems fading away, well maybe for 2 years for now.

    New member here. Been living in Japan for 5 years. Moved to a new house in a different prefecture and bought a car.
    A week after driving the shiny new car, I got rear-ended but no damage to both parties. So other party was let go by the Police we were told to sort it out with our insurance. Exchanged contact info and he was given the q to go away.

    Rookie police seems confused what to do with me since I was using an IDP. So he admits and tells me he's a rookie and needs to call back up. Asked what's the problem, he doesn't say anything. After 20 mins backup arrives, 1 police car, 1 police motorcycle and 1 big ass police van. About 10 officers surrounded me. My personal belongings in my pocket are confiscated (except my phone). One old police guy asked if I have a gun with me. WTF??? Why would I need a gun here? I asked. Then I was frisked without being asked. MY stuff put inside the box. My car was searched by two poliec guys, every space was checked including my tools etc ( i suspect they think I have drugs with me).

    Old police tells me this, NICE Car, is it really yours or is it stolen? WTF again? (But I remained calm). Told him the younger polie guy checked the registration and insurance and it is under my name. Asked what was going on - NO ANSWER.

    So I was brought to the accident area and I was asked to stand where I was driving, they took a photo without letting me know. NExt I was escorted nect to may car, had another photo ops. Asked again what's going on (in japanese) NO ONE ANSWERS. They told me they need my passport and I said I don't have it with me, also telling them you guys have my gaijin card so you can check I am a resident.

    I was held on the roadside for about an hour getting uneasy. Then police guy said we need to go to our new house. So I went to the driver seat and waited (thought one of them would be my passenger). I was told by the old guy I cannot drive and he will drive instead. We went home took passports and we rode to the police station. Keep asking what's going on, but no one tells me. They kept asking me where I work, who's the CEO, asked if I knew someone Japanese that can come to station and attest to my existence here in Japan as legal. I said no, we just moved here and I don't know anyone who can be bothered right now. Most of them are in Tokyo. They keep asking he same thing but i kept mentioning no one is available. They googled my company, and tried to call the CEO! Told the old guy why would he do that? He said he needs to verify if I was really working there. Told him for things like that, you don't call the CEO (idiot!). Told him today is sunday in case he doesnt know and no one is inthe office. I eventually gave our heads personal cell and they called him. After two hours police interpreter told me they verified my employment and that is all ok now. Now the hard part, I was told I am on "Suspicion" of driving without license, I was told if I wasnt married and or lives alone in an apartment with nobody to guarantee me, I would be put in jail waiting trial.

    I told him my IDP and License back home is valid, in fact I already applied for conversion and my papers were accepted and just waiting for my scheduled driving test which was scheduled in the next two months. THey said I wasn't out of Japan for 3 months so my international driving permit thought they checked is valid and not fake, but the rule makes me "driving without license". I googled stuff about what he said right away and the reality sanked in! I am being arrested with possible fine, imprisonment and deportation. I began to panic and explainedI didn't know ( I seriously didnt know) the authority who gave me the IDL told me I can drive using this IDP but only for a year and no extension since it is japan. Hence as soon as I got back here with my IDP, I immediately applied for conversion since i heard many horror stories people failing many times and some took more than 6 months taking the tests to get the license. He said he believes me and they said many people they caught didn't know this aswell. I have never driven in japan before. This is the first time I am made aware of this.

    So I was escorted and driven back home and they asked my wife to sign a paper (guarantee letter) saying I am on suspicion of unlicensed driving and I would need to be back to the police station a couple more times for the investigation.

    I didn't sign on anything about confessing or a confession letter. I asked what kind of investigation will take place etc, they said we would need to go bak to the accident site and like recreate the scenario (I am amazed since no one was hurt and no damages to the vehicles at all. Though I was rear ended, the vehicles just literally touched. The other party was the one quick to call the polie - all is settled now with insurance (insurance said he is at fault too and theere will be no compensation since there was nothing to repair on both).

    Now it's been a month and no contact from police or letter came. I've been reading about this but couldn't get any info that can help me ease my anxiety about this issue. Should I call them?

    By the way, I failed my driving test (despite practicing on a driving school and having done test fairly well) and need to do it again in the next two months.

    Can someone please give advice on what I should do? I was actually planning to acquire a big bike this new year CBR600 or R6 but have changed my mind due to what happened. sorry for the long post and thanks in advance! Pardon my typos.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Minoh Shi, Osaka
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    Default

    So you didn't drive at all until you bought a car just recently? Unfortunately if you didn't have the IDP on you then in fact you are driving illegally. I know someone who got in trouble but just walked out the police station when the officer disappeared for a moment, he got away with it.

  3. #3

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    Yes that is correct I have never driven in Japan until I bought my car. When I bought the car at the dealer, they checked my IDP and the insurance guys to see if I qualify. I thought all is well because the dealer let me buy the car plus the insurance.

    I have the IDP with me with my original driver's license when accident took place that are both valid. Only the passport wasn't with me during the time I got searched. Anyone know if I should call them for updates? OR should I jsut wait in limbo? I have now read that even I pass the driving test, my license will not be given to me.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2010
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    Minoh Shi, Osaka
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    When was the IDP issued?

  5. #5

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    Last September we went back to our home country for vacation and got my IDP.
    When I got back here, I applied for Gaimen Kirikae in Mid october, passed the written test and was scheduled to take the test Yesterday (yup that's a pretty long wait and I failed).
    I bought the car last week of October and after 5 days of getting the car, this thing happened.

  6. #6

    Default

    I've been in and out of Japan this year for more than a couple times but the police said the total days and months I was away doesn't equal or surpass 90 days so that's why I was brought to the station. But still confuses me since I did not had to sign anything there.

    You mentioned you know a guy who got away with it. Can you share how it worked out for him?

  7. #7
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    Jun 2010
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    It's valid then, I just wonder if they only allow an IDP from the date of commencement as a resident for 1 year?

    If it's stopping you driving then you should chase it up, whatever the outcome they surely won't have forgotten about you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Minoh Shi, Osaka
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    The guy I know was a very different situation, he went to the station to report his lost IDP. He had his helmet so the officer was suspicious, he was asked how he had come and they told him to wait there and in the meantime the guy legged it and rode away. He was only here on a tourist anyway but could have had the same treatment as you. He didn't hand over any ID, no passport on him etc so they weren't able to catch him later.

  9. #9

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    Yes it is valid according to them but still I don't satisfy the 3 month out of japan rule so that's why I was interrogated for 6 hours in the station. They took all stuff and documents and copied all the pages on my passport and all my IDs.

  10. #10

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    Any Law Gurus or Lawyers here to help out?

    I believe if they indeed wanted to file charges for unlicensed driving, it should have been done in less than a month to the prosecutor for summary courts right?

    One of my reference is here: http://www.unafei.or.jp/english/index.htm


    I mean, they just can't have somebody be kept on a limbo right?

  11. #11

    Default

    Been living in Japan for 5 years.
    Last September we went back to our home country for vacation and got my IDP.
    Which you cannot use because you have been in Japan longer than one year.

    the authority who gave me the IDL told me I can drive using this IDP but only for a year
    The authority was correct. But did you tell them that you were already a > 1 year resident of Japan?

    Converting your license is one thing - the IDP is irrelevant and they don't care how long you have been in-country, only that your license was issued more than 3 months before your arrival (or you have been out for > 3 months since).

    Driving with an IDP is another. It sounds like the police were actually trying very hard to find your license valid - hence the passport check. If they can add up 3 months / 90 days out of Japan in the previous year you meet the conditions.

    The actual target of these seemingly bizarre regulations is Japanese people who were taking a vacation, getting a license while on vacation, and then exchanging that license on their return (or renewing an IDP by mail). So either bypassing the training process altogether by going somewhere with really simple (or no) tests, or they were ineligible for a license here and were doing this to get around another rule. Us foreigners were caught up in the net but we do have a time exception - Japanese people need 6 months elsewhere.

    The month of silence could mean they have decided it's not worth the trouble as it was a zero-claim accident with the other party at fault. There may be an internal filing deadline they need to meet, and if they simply ignore your docket the whole process will disappear on it's own.
    Or they decided it was a really minor oversight on your part, the rule wasn't meant to target gaijin that have already applied for a local license, and just not worth the paperwork.
    Or it could mean they're busy, and will get around to hauling you in after new years.

    Since it appears you really were driving without a valid license you should at least research a lawyer. Under no circumstances call, visit, email, write, send telepathic messages to nor haunt any part of the police department.

    Obligatory background theme:

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/Zd68AthoNIw?start=27



    (Oh, and in case it's not obvious, park the car for a while.)
    Last edited by rtfm; 05-12-16 at 09:03 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Unlicensed driving on IDP

    Don't ask us idiots. Get a lawyer.
    RedSquare
    Some pithy saying about biking, or a quote from a self-styled guru. Take your pick.

  13. #13
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    rtfm is right. you are only allowed to use an IDP for one year from the landing date on your first status of residence unless you are out of the country for a total of 90 days in one year. you were driving illegally without a valid legal license. i wouldnt worry too much. i seriously doubt you will face serious or severe consequences. you will probably be fined and prohibited from getting a drivers license for a time. i do think you will be brought in for an "interrogation" which just means they will ask your complete life story in the most detail you have ever told anyone for the first half. then they will slowly work through all the details about the crime and write a report. this will take all day in the police station. they will be calm, professional and polite. you will not be mistreated at all. apologize, admit your fault and promise not to drive illegally.

    one worry is whether this might affect the renewal of your status of residence (visa). talk to a lawyer!

    good luck!


  14. #14
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    Damn, what a story. Last time I got pulled over, one of the police officers starts asking me where I work, am I the CEO, and so on. I just made it easy and said that I`m an English teacher. That ended it and I was handed a moving violation ticket.

    I will add that I have permanent residency and a valid driver`s license.

    Good luck, but I think you are screwed. I would find an attorney if I were in your shoes.

  15. #15

    Default

    Thanks for all you inputs, it really helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by rtfm View Post
    Which you cannot use because you have been in Japan longer than one year.



    The authority was correct. But did you tell them that you were already a > 1 year resident of Japan?

    Converting your license is one thing - the IDP is irrelevant and they don't care how long you have been in-country, only that your license was issued more than 3 months before your arrival (or you have been out for > 3 months since).

    Yes, because the authority took my residence card and passports. I was even strictly forbidden on renewing it aas in japan they don't allow it. It even mentioned it in their website that you can only use this for a year in japan and if you wanted to renew it, you have to be out of Japan for 3 months. But since this is my first IDP, I was told I can use this - explained the same to the police when I was interrogated.

    Quote Originally Posted by rtfm View Post

    Driving with an IDP is another. It sounds like the police were actually trying very hard to find your license valid - hence the passport check. If they can add up 3 months / 90 days out of Japan in the previous year you meet the conditions.).
    If you mean previous year as 2015, then if they add the times I left from March 2015 and until Sept 2016 (when I got the IDP, if I combine it all, it will suffice 90 days but that means it is more than a year from Sept 2016.

    Yup, I stopped driving the car and just hoping I can pass the test scheduled mid January. I was actually thinking of spending money to go to the driving school to get it faster but if the license would not be issued to me after graduating, it wouldn't make sense spending money for DS.

    Anyone who got in the same situation? May I ask how long have you been waiting before contacted by the police?

    Some people I know who were caught using IDP with a traffic violation got their results right away. There were asked to sign or make a confession letter which isn't my case. I will not contact the police then and continue to hope I can get my license soon before they haunt me again.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by haildamage View Post
    rtfm is right. you are only allowed to use an IDP for one year from the landing date on your first status of residence unless you are out of the country for a total of 90 days in one year. you were driving illegally without a valid legal license. i wouldnt worry too much. i seriously doubt you will face serious or severe consequences. you will probably be fined and prohibited from getting a drivers license for a time. i do think you will be brought in for an "interrogation" which just means they will ask your complete life story in the most detail you have ever told anyone for the first half. then they will slowly work through all the details about the crime and write a report. this will take all day in the police station. they will be calm, professional and polite. you will not be mistreated at all. apologize, admit your fault and promise not to drive illegally.

    one worry is whether this might affect the renewal of your status of residence (visa). talk to a lawyer!

    good luck!
    A week after I got interrogated, I applied for visa extension and they gave me 3 years, the immigration officer even kindly asked me to apply for permanent reaidency. Despite the fact that i was just staying here for 5 years, I asked if he was sure he said I might already qualify so if I have all the paperwork I can apply the same day. But since i don't have a gurantee letter yet from a japanese sponsor, I said I'll do it next time. 10 days to be exac after my visa extension application, I got my new shiny residence card with 3 years on it. Maybe the timing was good?

  17. #17
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    who told you you could use an IDP? were they an expert on driving laws in Japan or was it the guy in the US at AAA?

    after my traffic accident it took about two months for them to schedule the official interrogation. i had a valid J DL.

    i would hold off on driving school. i think you will be banned from getting a license and driving for a few years. check into this first.


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by blinker182 View Post
    Yes, because the authority took my residence card and passports. I was even strictly forbidden on renewing it aas in japan they don't allow it. It even mentioned it in their website that you can only use this for a year in japan and if you wanted to renew it, you have to be out of Japan for 3 months. But since this is my first IDP, I was told I can use this - explained the same to the police when I was interrogated.
    You may only use an IDP for 1 year after your first landing in Japan. Or, if you leave Japan for 3 months. You would have to have been out of the country for more than three months total between the time when your IDP was issued and one year prior to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by blinker182 View Post
    If you mean previous year as 2015, then if they add the times I left from March 2015 and until Sept 2016 (when I got the IDP, if I combine it all, it will suffice 90 days but that means it is more than a year from Sept 2016.
    Your IDP was issued in September 2016. If you've been out of the country for more than 90 days between September 2015 and September 2016, then you should be ok. It would still be wise to consult a lawyer. Since you mentioned March 2015, I believe you may not qualify, so I strongly suggest you consult a lawyer.

    Quote Originally Posted by blinker182 View Post
    Yup, I stopped driving the car and just hoping I can pass the test scheduled mid January. I was actually thinking of spending money to go to the driving school to get it faster but if the license would not be issued to me after graduating, it wouldn't make sense spending money for DS.
    I strongly recommend getting your Japanese license as quickly as possible even if that means it will get taken away immediately. This may give the police a way of punishing you without deporting you.

    Quote Originally Posted by blinker182 View Post
    Some people I know who were caught using IDP with a traffic violation got their results right away. There were asked to sign or make a confession letter which isn't my case.
    Completely irrelevant. Their situation was not your situation and the police they talked to were different.

    Quote Originally Posted by blinker182 View Post
    Anyone who got in the same situation? May I ask how long have you been waiting before contacted by the police?
    Yes: http://www.gaijinriders.com/showthre...lot-of-trouble

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    Y

    I strongly recommend getting your Japanese license as quickly as possible even if that means it will get taken away immediately. This may give the police a way of punishing you without deporting you.


    : http://www.gaijinriders.com/showthre...lot-of-trouble
    I honestly don't think I would end up getting deported just because of this situation.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by haildamage View Post
    who told you you could use an IDP? were they an expert on driving laws in Japan or was it the guy in the US at AAA?

    after my traffic accident it took about two months for them to schedule the official interrogation. i had a valid J DL.

    i would hold off on driving school. i think you will be banned from getting a license and driving for a few years. check into this first.
    Hello, were there injuries and property damage involved? Was it after insurance was settled? I hope u don't mind telling me what exactly happened.

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