On this day in auto history - September 10th

Fri 10th Sep 2021

It was on this day way back in 1897 that London taxi driver George Smith acquired the dubious distinction of becoming the first person in the UK to be arrested and fined for drink driving.

The 25-year-old - a licensed driver with London’s Electric Cab Company - was arrested after a policeman witnessed him erratically drive his 8-mph cab into the frontage of a Bond Street building, breaking a water pipe and a window.

On arrest, Smith admitted that he’d had “two or three glasses of beer” but it took a divisional sergeant to certify that he was ‘drunk’ and he was duly fined 25 shillings.

Certifying ‘drunk’ driving remained a tricky issue until 1936 when a device was patented in the US known as the ‘drunkometer’ (similar to a modern-day breath test) which finally allowed police to measure the alcohol content in a person’s blood at the scene.