When Were Drunk Driving Laws Introduced?

When Were Drunk Driving Laws Introduced? 

Despite the fact that there are laws against drinking and driving throughout the country, it is still common to find drunk drivers on our roadways. In fact, one person dies in a drunk driving crash every 45 minutes in the United States. Fortunately, DUI laws have changed significantly over time. Here is a look at the history of drunk driving laws and how they have evolved to their current status. 

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Early DUI Laws

The first laws against drunk driving were introduced in New York in 1910. These early laws simply prohibited people from driving while they were intoxicated, but there was no clear definition of what level of inebriation qualified someone to be arrested for DUI. 

Soon after the introduction of these early laws, the death rate for drunk drivers started to rise. Drunk driving became an important issue for many states because it was becoming a major cause of car accidents. 

In 1937, the death rate began to drop again after the repeal of prohibition. This was thanks to research done by the American Medical Association and the National Safety Council. 

It was also around this time that the first scientific method to measure a driver’s BAC was created. The drunk meter, invented in 1936 by Indiana University professor Rola Harger, was a balloon-like device that would determine the level of alcohol a person had consumed through their breath. 

As the years went on, other techniques were developed to measure a driver’s BAC. Eventually, a professor named Robert Borkenstein invented the Breathalyzer, which is considered the standard method for measuring a driver’s BAC today. 

The Breathalyzer allowed for the measurement of a driver’s BAC in an easier and more accurate way than the drunk meter. It also made it easier for law enforcement to identify inebriated drivers, which in turn reduced the number of deaths on our roads. 

NH DUI Laws Change Over the Years

As time went on, the penalties for driving while intoxicated became more strict. These changes were largely influenced by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). 

After the 1970s, DUI laws shifted to be much more aggressive against inebriated motorists. Under these laws, anyone found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.02% or higher could face jail time. 

There are also zero-tolerance laws that prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from driving with any amount of alcohol in their system. These laws are becoming increasingly common across the country as a result of increased awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. 

NH Open Container Laws

While many states have banned drinking and driving altogether, there are a few that allow drivers to consume alcohol while they are behind the wheel. These states include Maine and Mississippi, as well as Vermont and Wyoming. 

While these laws are effective at reducing the number of drunk driving deaths, they are not as effective as enforcing the no-alcohol-on-the-road rule. This is why Mothers Against Drunk Driving has recently started advocating for open container laws, which outlaw the practice of using open containers in vehicles while a driver is intoxicated. 

When Were Drunk Driving Laws Introduced? | Montag Law Office