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On this day: First Drunk Driving arrest


On this day in 1897, a 25-year-old London taxi driver named George Smith became the first person ever arrested for drunk driving. Smith had slammed his cab into a building. He pled guilty and was fined 25 shillings.

New Jersey enacted the first U.S. law that specifically criminalized driving an automobile while intoxicated, in 1906. The New Jersey statute provided that "No intoxicated person shall drive a motor vehicle." Violations were punishable by a fine of up to $500, or a term of up to 60 days in county jail.

Early laws, such as that enacted in New Jersey, required proof of a state of intoxication with no specific definition of what level of inebriation qualified. The first generally accepted legal BAC limit was 0.15%. All states have now established .08% as the limit, but enhanced penalties apply to higher BAC levels.

In 1980, a Californian named Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, after her 13-year-old daughter Cari was killed by a drunk driver while walking home from a school carnival. The driver had three previous drunk-driving convictions and was out on bail from a hit-and-run arrest two days earlier.

Despite the stiff penalties and public awareness campaigns, drunk driving remains a serious problem in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2013 - 1 every 53 minutes. Every day in America, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.

The often tragic consequences and harsh legal penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are well publicized. What many people don’t realize is that it is also illegal and punishable in all 50 states to drive under the influence of marijuana (or a combination of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs).

Eighteen states have made it legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. But no state has gone so far as to say it’s okay to drive after using medical marijuana.


Drunk Driving, DUI, Medical Marijuana


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