Smith is one of the most common of names in western society, in England it's the most common surname and also in Australia and America it's very prevalent - 2 million in the USA apparently. But...There's one who stands out above the rest - No, not Will Smith...The infamous George Smith! But you've probably never heard of him.
Young George Smith holds the questionable honour of being the first person arrested for drunk driving! The twenty five year old taxi driver crashed his cab into a London building on this day and after pleading guilty was fined 25 shillings. Around the equivalent of $5 (USD) back in 1897.
It wasn't until much later that public awareness of drink driving began to gain momentum and governments around the world began to increase penalties and get tougher on offenders.
In 1936 Dr. Rolla Harger developed the drunkometer in New York which was a breathe-into-device to determine how drunk a person may be. Ex-policeman Robert Borkenstein followed it up and invented the breathaliser in 1953, a more accurate device. source
These days very accurate equipment is used at road-side testing stations set up by police and offenders are issued expiation notices, demerit points and, depending on the severity of the offence, can lose their drivers license and indeed serve jail time! Good. There's no place on our roads for drunk drivers.
The legal minimum age to drink alcohol varies around the world, and some countries ban it altogether! Ages range from 10-15 in a couple countries, 16-17 in several European countries although 61% of the world has an age of between 17-18 as the minimum age. I think its 21 in much of [if not all] of America which I agree with (the higher age I mean). No matter the age though, a degree of responsibility comes along with the ability to legally (or illegally) drink alcohol.
Over 10,000 people die each year in vehicle incidents involving a drunk driver in the USA - About 0.0037% of the population. The figure is around 380 in Australia - 0.0015% of the population and in the UK around 9,000 - 0.13% so pretty high there huh? As a percentage the figure doesn't look alarming however each of those 10,000 deaths, in the US for instance, affected many others, not just the driver...Plus there's the stress on the medical system and financial costs involved on the periphery of the incident.
Thanks to a famous Smith back in 1897 drunk driving is policed reasonably stringently around the world however for each person apprehended for driving under the influence of alcohol I can't help think that many get away. And that's not to mention the new thing...Drug driving...Although I did mention it didn't I.
If you drink, never drive.