When was drunk driving outlawed? Did this occur after the introduction of the automobile, or was it illegal to drive your stagecoach home after a night at the local saloon?
I don’t know.
Having said that, a cursory perusal thru Google News Archives finds referencs as far back as the 1920s. But that doesn’t indicate how widespread they were or what the range of penalties were.
I’ve read about guys who would go to a tavern and get so drunk that when they basically fell into their wagon the horse or mule, so used to the routine, would just walk the path home on instinct without any real input from the driver needed. So I think overall a drunk wagon/coach operator isn’t nearly as dangerous as a drunk car driver. Although obviously inside city limits someone driving a 19th century coach or lorry at max speed while intoxicated would potentially be putting the public in serious danger.
I remember watching that documentary show “Brisco County Jnr” wherein Brisco was appointed to be sherrif - at the end of the show he stopped two yahoos riding their horses drunk. This was during “wild wild west” times.
In the UK, there was no explicit drunk-driving law until 1930, when the offence of driving under the influence of drink or drugs was introduced.
Prior to that, there was an offence of reckless driving from 1903. While drunkenness might be a factor in someone’s reckless driving, it wasn’t a necessary element of the offence. Conversely, simply being drunk was not enough to establish the offence; there would have to be evidence that your drunkenness was reflected in the manner of your driving.
Thanks for the replies, everyone! It appears that drunk driving only became sanctioned after the invention of the automobile, which might seem obvious at first. I think Martin Hyde has a point, though.
Not sure about drinking, but U.S. Grant was arrested for speedingin his horse and buggy.
I can tell you that since it was Grant he was almost certainly drunk at the time.
I recall something about one of the first motor vehicle deaths in the USA; some young boy was hit and run over by a car at night. When his body as found the next morning, it was pretty flat and it appeared that quite a few different vehicles had run him over during the nght.
What came out of this was the reuirement for good headlights, apparently. Before this, horse-drawn traffic was typically going at a walking speed (you can only gallop a bunch of draft horses for so long - a few minutes IIRC - then they have to rest). Cars could arrive unexpectedly fast, far faster than horses. As they became more common, so did night drving. Until then street lighting and headlights were not up to modern standards - there’s a big difference between needing to see where you’re going at 30mph vs. walking speed. Of course, brakes did not have to meet any standards either.
As someone mentions above, a bunch of horses are smart enough not to hit another wagon. I remember some story the gist of which was the guy figured out what his wife was up to by letting the horses do the walking and they led him straight to someone else’s place, menaing that they’d been there several times. Horses are smart that way.
IIRC, the accident was about 1910, when automobiles were just becoming common enough that people were realizing the danger they could pose. As the number of autos in a jurisdiction increased, and people began to drive faster (less horses in the way) each state or city had to make assorted laws to address the fact that a ton of metal going 30 miles an hour was a heck of a lot more dangerous that a team of horses.
I remember my grandfather who was born in the 19th century talking about this. He would get the horse started in the right direction and then he’d climb into the back of the wagon for some shut-eye. He would invariably wake up with the horse stopped outside of the barn.
Now if we could just get Cars to do this…
With modern cars and GPS surely we can’t be far off.
Driverless cars are like fusion energy… always about twenty years in the future.