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JPR Feature
Driving While Intoxicated   
Thursday June 30, 2005
By Alice Mullaly

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

It was 1931 when Oregon's new law against driving while intoxicated was first enforced in the Southern Oregon town of Medford. And justice was swift.

E.D. Thompson had been in Medford only a couple of week but had already found a job as a cook in a local restaurant. Apparently Thompson had been drinking the Sunday he drove his car through the intersection that Mrs. Mabel Church was driving across. He didn't even see her and the cars collided. Though no one was hurt, both autos were badly damaged. Thompson made one more serious mistake. He sped off from the scene of the accident, but the police found him quickly.

Less than twenty-four hours after his arrest, Thompson had been tried and sentenced under the new DUI guidelines. The sentence was sixty days in jail, a $100 fine and his car was to be held by the Sheriff's Office until the sentence was served and the fine paid.

Although the scientific breath test for intoxication had not yet been invented, the old, and still current, test of being impaired to a noticeable and perceptible degree would certainly have been used. Thompson learned then what we still teach today-drinking and driving don't mix.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

"Drunken Driver Gets the 'Book'," Medford Mail Tribune, July 6, 1931, p.2; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website, "DUI/DWI Laws as of July 2004."

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