I was wondering if before the automobile some places it was illegal to drive a carriage drunk? The first law in the USA against drunk driving was 1910 in Massachusetts. But I don't know if there are instances where they forbade it for people to steer the carriage while drunk.

I would like to know if there was anything before the 1900s.

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    Are you asking only for the US, or the world in general? Aug 4, 2017 at 17:37
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    Prior to the age of the automobile, what you really needed to look out for was drunk horses.
    – Dacio
    Aug 4, 2017 at 18:53
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    There were, but my source Das Letzte Jahrhundert des Pferdes is currently 15,000km away from me.
    – Marakai
    Aug 4, 2017 at 19:22
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    I've heard that Dodge City in its wildest days had fewer deaths from gunfire than from drunk driving. Aug 5, 2017 at 18:59
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    @DavidRicherby Drivers of horse-drawn coaches and carts, and/or riders of horses, I forget. Aug 7, 2017 at 5:43

2 Answers 2


In the UK, the 1872 Licencing Act made it an offence to be:

... drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine, or who is drunk when in possession of any loaded firearms, ...

I understand that parts of that Act remain in force.


"Causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving" (whether drunk or not) was made illegal by the Offences against the Person Act 1861. It is interpreted as applying to:

  • drivers of horse-drawn carriages and vehicles
  • motorists who cannot be prosecuted for dangerous driving because they were driving elsewhere than on a road or public place [...]
  • cyclists who cannot be prosecuted for dangerous cycling because they were cycling elsewhere than on a road [...]

It remains in force today in England and Wales, and was used in a prosecution in 2009. In that instance, a cyclist knocked down a pedestrian on the pavement. He was jailed for seven months, and banned from driving for a year.

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    He was banned from "driving"? Or cycling (his real offense)?
    – Tom Au
    Aug 6, 2017 at 3:32
  • @TomAu the article says driving...
    – Tim
    Aug 6, 2017 at 9:38
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    This law seems to condemn the act of causing bodily harm, not the wanton or furious driving itself. It's only applicable when something already has happened, it doesn't stop me from drunk driving.
    – Bergi
    Aug 6, 2017 at 13:35
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    @TomAu From driving. There's no mechanism for banning somebody from cycling, since cycling doesn't require any qualifications or anybody's permission (there's no "cycling license"). It's also a subtlety of English law that you can't get points on your driving license for cycling dangerously, but you can be outright banned from driving. Aug 6, 2017 at 17:06
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    @DavidRicherby: I agree! The first answer answers the question, but I felt this was, if not relevant, at least interesting. The voters can decide if they agree :-) Aug 6, 2017 at 18:18

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