DUI History: How and When Did Driving Under the Influence Become Illegal?

Did you know the first DUI arrest was made in 1897? Ironically, it was a taxi driver, George Smith, who slammed his car into the side of a building. He was a Londoner who was charged 25 shillings for the offense.

Today in the United States, almost 30 people die EVERY DAY from drunk driving crashes. In fact, 1 in 3 people will be a part of some sort of drunk driving crash during their lifetime. 

Unfortunately, teens are the ones most affected. On average, 8 teenagers per day are killed by drunk driving crashes in the United States.

So where did it all begin? What's the DUI history? In 1910, the first United States law against DUI went into effect, but there have been a lot of changes since then, and every state is different.

Let's look at the history of DUI laws and in particular, and how they pertain to Illinois.

When Did DUI Laws Begin? 

So in 1910, the first law went into effect in New York, but how was it regulated? The answer is that it was pretty subjective. The only way to really charge someone is if they appeared to be drunk.

Then in 1936 came the invention of a balloon-like contraption called the Drunkometer, which the intoxicated subject would breathe into in order to determine if they were drunk. It was created by Professor Rolla Harder who was a professor of toxicology and biochemistry. However, it didn't have much accuracy in determining exactly how drunk a person was.

In 1953, Harder's Drunkometer collaborator, Robert Borkenstein, came up with the Breathalyzer. He was also a professor and a former Indiana police chief. The Breathalyzer has obviously been modified over the years, but it's essentially the same concept tool that is used today.

Awareness Grew with MADD

The history of drunk driving laws is not very extensive. Not much was done until Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) lit a fire to make changes in our country to lessen drunk driving. It was founded by one mother who had lost her 13-year-old daughter to a drunk driver. In 1980, she started a movement to create stricter, more efficient laws for one reason and one reason only, to eliminate injury and death due to drunk driving.

Every 2 minutes, someone is injured by a drunk driver. Every 51 minutes, someone is killed by a drunk driver.

MADD helped raise the drinking age in certain states, and now the country-wide legal age is 21. Many states, including Illinois, have implemented a new device that is usually required for those with DUI history. It's a device that the driver has to blow into before they start their car, and if they're over  a certain limit, the device actually stops the car from starting.

What about DUI History in Illinois?

In 1990, the Supreme Court decided that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to citizens when it comes to sobriety checkpoints. The reason for this is that even though the Fourth Amendment's purpose is to protect citizens from searches and seizures, checkpoints protect innocent citizens from drunk drivers.

Even though it was a Supreme Court decision, the implementation of sobriety checkpoints still lies in the hands of the state. There are 13 states which do not allow for these checkpoints, but Illinois is not oneof them. Illinois is a state that has implemented these checkpoints.

What Are Your Rights if You’re Stopped at a Checkpoint?

First of all, checkpoints are always set up in a way so you can see them coming. So by law, drivers are allowed to turn around and avoid them. That being said, cops are also allowed to monitor and/or follow someone who has avoided it.

At a sobriety check, police officers look for these tell-tale signs:

  • Red or bloodshot eyes
  • A flushed face
  • Struggles with coordination or communication
  • The smell of alcohol

You are allowed to refuse to talk to an officer in the state of Illinois, provided you do so in the correct way. Just keep in mind that any refusals can be held against you, especially if you are deemed to be intoxicated or are arrested.

If a police officer thinks a driver is under the influence, some of the tests they'll ask the driver to complete are:

  • Walk and turn
  • Standing on one leg
  • Finger to the nose
  • Counting or reciting the alphabet

If you blow into a Breathalyzer and your BAC is over 0.08%, you will be charged with DUI.

How Does Illinois Start off Strong?

In Illinois, new drivers are required to log 50 hours of supervised driving.

Furthermore, for the first 12 months that a teen is in possession of a driver's license, they cannot have more than one passenger in the car who is under 20, unless the passengers are siblings.

What Happens if Your License is Already Suspended?

You want to be careful, because driving with a suspended license can lead to bigger issues like:

  • Longer suspension time
  • Jail time
  • Your license being revoked
  • Your car being seized

Even though life can be extremely hard with a suspended license, it's best not to drive to the grocery store, drive to work, or drive your kids to school until you have your license restored. 

Your first step should be acquiring representation that can help. There are many steps involved in getting your license reinstated, like requesting either a formal or informal hearing, depending on yourhistory . 

In addition, having your license reinstated can happen sooner or later depending on if you are considered minimal, moderate, significant or high risk. This risk assessment needs to be done within 6 months of your hearing.

What about a Hardship License?

At your hearing, you'll be able to make the case to obtain a hardship license, which can temporarily allow you to do the necessities like going to and from work, or bringing your kids to daycare.

It can be a battle to acquire one, and having someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of the law and is aspecialist at the process is of the utmost importance.

We Are Specialists in Illinois DUI History

There are so many little details which can hurt or help your case.

We all make mistakes, but at the same time, owning up to them is essential. You want to present yourself as a functioning adult who made a mistake but contributes to society, but you also want to take responsibility for what you've done.

Not only do you need to set up a hearing, but you also need to find ways to prove your hardship without a vehicle, and to show why you won't be a danger to society if allowed back on the road.

At JMQ Law we can help you every step of the way. We are experts in DUI history, particularly pertaining to the state of Illinois. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can get you started on getting your license reinstated.