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Happy Belated Birthday, DUI!


I’m a little late this year, but better late than never.

On September 10, 1897, the first ever drunk driving arrest was made. A London taxi driver by the name of George Smith had crashed his vehicle into a building. After pleading guilty, Smith was fined a whopping 25 shillings. In today’s standards, that would be about 40 British pounds, which is about 67 US dollars.

In 1910, New York became the first state to adopt a law against driving under the influence of alcohol. Because there was no way to determine how intoxicated a person was, there was no per se legal blood alcohol content limit. Officers had only to determine that a person was “intoxicated.”

In 1938, Indiana University professor, Rolla Harger invented the “drunk-o-meter” in an attempt to quantify intoxication. The person being tested would blow into a balloon. The balloon was then attached a tube containing chemicals and the air released. The alcohol in the air would react to the chemicals and create a color. The higher the alcohol content, the greater the color change. In 1954, Robert Borkenstein, chairman of Indiana University’s department administration, invented a more portable device that measured a subjects blood alcohol content. The device would be called a breathalyzer.

In 1939, Indiana became the first state to pass a law that made it illegal to drive with a specific blood alcohol content.  The legal limit for which a person could drive with alcohol in their system was a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent.

Since then, public awareness on the dangers of drunk driving, in addition to the formation of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) in the late 70s and early 80s, led to a shift in legislation regarding DUIs.  All states have adopted laws making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more.

In May of 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board called on all 50 states to lower the blood alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05 percent. Whether the NTSB’s suggestion affects the legal limits in this country has yet to be seen.

In the meantime, DUI can celebrate another year. Happy Birthday DUI!

The post Happy Belated Birthday, DUI! appeared first on Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor - DUI Central.

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