In the United States, the first laws against operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol went into effect in New York in 1910. In 1936, Dr. Rolla Harger, a professor of biochemistry and toxicology, patented the Drunkometer. In 1953, Robert Borkenstein, a former Indiana state police captain and university professor and Harger’s collaborator for Drunkometer, invented the Breathalyzer.
It was not much before early 1980s, public awareness and enforcement against drunk driving started getting tough.
In 1980, a Californian named Candy Lightner mother of a 13 year old girl – Cari walking home from a school carnival, was killed by a bailed drunk driver with 3 hit-and-run cases – founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Lightner and MADD were instrumental in helping to change attitudes about drunk driving and pushed for legislation that increased the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Despite the stiff penalties and public awareness campaigns, drunk driving remains a serious problem in the United States. In 2005, 16,885 people died in alcohol-related crashes and almost 1.4 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.