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It’s safe to assume a vast majority of those who enjoy driving have had some sort of speeding violation in their past. Even if they’re ticket free, there’s a good chance they’ve had some form of run-in with the law. We get it! You’re in a fun car, you see an open road, you want to put your foot down a little. Fortunately for you, police typically give you a speeding ticket and let you go on with your day, unlike the first time someone was jailed for speeding.

In 1904, a driver was put in jail for five days for speeding

Henry Ford sitting on an early Ford automobile with the Model B engine in 1904
A Ford from 1904 | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

According to What’s Up Newp, a news outlet from Newport, Rhode Island, the first person ever jailed for speeding was in Newport in 1904. Though it’s a bit up in the air as to whether it occurred on August 27th or August 28th, the result is the same. The driver spent five days in jail for his speeding offense.

That already seems pretty extreme, right? Well, it gets crazier. The driver in question was traveling at a jaw-dropping speed of 15 miles per hour. Back then, traffic violations in automobiles were so new that punishments for them were quite severe.

What’s Up Newp reports that violations specific to automobiles weren’t even around until 1903, just one year before this incident took place. However, there were already laws in place to prevent speeding with horse carriages from as far back as the 1600s.

Who got the world’s first speeding ticket?

Though the Newport case was the first time on record that someone was jailed for speeding, it certainly wasn’t the first time someone was fined for putting their foot down. That honor goes to Walter Arnold, according to MoneyWeek.

Moneyweek reports that Arnold was driving the streets of Paddock Wood, Kent, in England back in 1896. At the time, the speed limit was just two miles per hour. Furthermore, drivers were required to have someone walking in front of them waving a red flag so that pedestrians could steer clear of the big, scary automobile. Arnold wasn’t having any part of it, though.

Instead, he went flagger free, blitzing down the streets at an appalling eight miles per hour. This downright reckless behavior led to a five-mile police chase. Arnold was eventually caught and fined a single shilling for his offense.

Certainly, speeding laws have come a long way as the automobile advanced. You might not wind up in jail for five days for going a bit over the speed limit. You could, however, take a ding in the wallet. Whatever you decide to do in your car, do it safely.


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