Just like many other laws in the United States, the DUI laws have evolved over time. They will also continue to evolve. If you face a DUI, you might be interested in the current DUI laws. Also, you might want to know how they started out and where they are headed. Now that these laws directly impact your life, it is important to fully understand them. For a brief timeline of DUI laws in the United States, read on.
When Did DUI Laws Begin?
The first state to impose consequences for drinking and driving was the state of New York in 1910. It made sense to impose consequences for driving while intoxicated because at this time, alcohol was illegal in the United States. Several other states followed New York’s lead and began to set laws and consequences for driving under the influence. However, these laws were not very specific in the beginning. It was simply illegal to drive while intoxicated, but no blood alcohol content (BAC) levels were set saying what constituted intoxication. For this reason, it was fairly easy to challenge initial DUI laws.
The first legal BAC level was not set until 1938. Research done by Doctor Harger, who created the Drunkometer, the National Safety Counsel, and the American Medical Association allowed the United States to set a legal BAC level. At the time, this level was .15%.
Dr. Harger was the first to establish a way to measure BAC in 1936 with his Drunkometer. In 1953, a retired police officer and professor, Robert Borkenstein, created the Breathalyzer. This device was adopted by police departments because it was easier to use than the Drunkometer and it was also more accurate. As the technology increased, so did the penalties for drunk driving.
MADD Influence and Modern Laws
In the 1980s, drunk driving became an issue that was at the forefront of public concern. This was due largely to the creation of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who put pressure on states to make their drunk driving laws more severe. MADD worked to get the drinking age raised from 18 to 21, which eventually occurred in the 1980s, and to lower the legal BAC limit. In 2000, Congress passed a law adopting .08% as the legal limit for drinking and driving.
The Future of Drunk Driving
Pressure from groups such as MADD still exists today. Many states have adopted laws that make driving with a BAC of .06% a crime, and some people feel that this is where DUI law is headed. It is possible that the legal BAC limit will become .06% in the future, as research shows that skills needed to safely operate a vehicle become impaired at this level.
DUI laws are only becoming more severe as time goes on. What’s more, drinking and driving is frowned upon by the public. To successfully present your DUI case in court, you need the help of a professional. To get the help that you need, you can contact my office.