Drunk Driving Laws: A Fascinating Stumble Through History

Every state across the nation has adopted their own versions of drinking and driving laws. Some states refer to this crime as driving under the influence (DUI) while others have classified this offense as driving while intoxicated (DWI). There are also a handful of states that refer to this act as operating while under the influence (OWI). Whatever the name, penalties for a conviction of drunk driving have become harsher over the years. Here is a brief look at the evolution of major events affecting drinking and driving laws:

  • 1897

George Smith is recognized as the first person to be arrested for drinking and driving. The London taxi driver was arrested on September 10, 1897. Smith eventually pled guilty to the charges and was fined 25 shillings as a penalty.

  • 1910

New York became the first state to enact drunk driving laws.

  • 1936

A professor of toxicology and biochemistry named Dr. Rolla Harger patented the Drunkometer.

  • 1938

0.15 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) became the first widely accepted legal limit for driving.

  • 1953

Robert Borkenstein, a former police officer-turned- professor, improved upon the Drunkometer and introduced the breathalyzer that is used by law enforcement today.

  • 1970

The general public gained increased awareness of the dangers associated with drinking and driving.

  • 1980

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner following the death of her daughter after a car accident with a repeat-offender drunk driver.

  • 1984

The nation adopted the Minimum Drinking Age Act. This law required states across the nation to raise the minimum drinking (or possession of alcohol) age to 21.

  • 1992

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) handed down a recommendation that all states lower the legal BAC level to .08 for all drivers 21 and older.

  • 1998

A Federal incentive grant called TEA-21 was created to encourage states to adopt a .08 BAC illegal per se level.

  • 2000

Congress adopted .08 BAC as the national legal limit for impaired driving.

Despite the increased legislation, drunk or impaired driving still exists on our roads. If you or someone you know is in need of a drunk driving accident attorney in Las Vegas, contact the office of Dan Simon at (702) 364-1650 today.