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119th Anniversary of the First DWI

119th Anniversary of the First DWI

September 10th may be just another day to most people, but in addition to “National TV Dinner Day” it is also the anniversary of the first DWI conviction in history. This year marks the 119th year mark since the first legal conviction of someone operating their car with a blood alcohol content that was far too high.

The Incident

It was September 10, 1897. Great Britain still controlled nearly half of the planet, the industrial revolution was in full swing, and cars were just starting to become more commonplace on roads around the world. One of these cars was a cab, driven by a gentleman by the name of George Smith. After having a few pints at a local pub, Smith proceeded to get back behind the wheel of his taxi and then slammed it into a building.

Fortunately for Smith, nobody was hurt in the accident, including himself as airbags had not yet been invented. Smith was arrested and charged with driving while drunk after a relatively short investigation (he openly admitted to police that he was intoxicated). He plead guilty in court and was fined 25 shillings.

Changing the Legal Landscape

In Smith’s case, he openly admitted to officers that he was intoxicated, but what if he had insisted otherwise? How would officers have known? How could they prove it? This led to numerous scientific experiments and the eventual connection between intoxication and alcohol in the blood stream, followed by blood-alcohol and breath.

The Drunkometer was invented by Indiana University toxicologist Rolla Harger in 1931, but required some significant scientific knowledge and there were a lot of inconsistencies with the required chemical mixture. It wasn’t until 1954 that Robert Borkenstein invented the Breathalyzer. Today, a smaller, cheaper, and electronic version of the Breathalyzer that is more accurate than ever before is standard equipment in every police car, both in the United States and all across Europe.

If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated in the Buffalo area, time is not on your side! Call the experienced Buffalo DWI attorneys from The Rossi Law Firm as soon as possible for representation when your case is heard in court. Our attorneys have earned numerous legal accolades, including admission into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum®, an AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, and a 10.0 Superb rating from Avvo.

Call The Rossi Law Firm today at (716) 951-5040 and schedule your consultation with our distinguished legal representatives now!