TSH: Judge Mize imposes first jail sentence for driving drunk

Today in Sanford history (TSH), Seminole County Judge Vernon Mize handed down the first mandatory jail sentence for driving while intoxicated (DWI). It was May 1, 1962.

The Sanford Herald article doesn’t name the woman who received that first jail sentence. The newspaper described her as a “slight, brown haired woman of middle-age, wearing an aqua colored skirt and a white blouse.”

The Herald said she was “visibly shaken” when the sentence was handed down.

Jail sentences for first offense DWIs are commonplace today, but in 1962 it was considered a harsh sentence. The newspaper commented that Mize’s decision would lead to a “new age of martyrs in Seminole County.”

Bokey Card – Sanford’s Happy Hour Any Hour!

The Bokey Card is a membership that allows you to purchase a single 2-4-1 cocktail, beer or wine at downtown Sanford businesses, once a day, every day of the year. More info at https://bokeycard.com


The Herald went on to opine that “the people who make mouthwash and breath sweeteners can expect to do a ‘land-office’ business in Seminole County from now on, that’s for sure.”

There were articles and letters to the editor and in the Herald for several days, some criticizing and others praising Mize. The mayors of Oviedo and Longwood publicly derided the punishment.

Oviedo Mayor Lee Gary was “vehement” in his criticism the Herald reported. Lee said his city would limit first-time DWI punishments to fines and license revocations.

Longwood Mayor Allan R. Lormann, who was running for the state legislature at the time, argued that police officers weren’t capable of determining if a driver was intoxicated “within the proper medical definition of the term.”

“Who but a qualified medical doctor can make such a diagnosis?” Lormann added.

I guess the Longwood mayor never saw the inside of a bar at midnight.


If you liked what you just read, sign up for the newsletter so you know when we publish future articles.

Success! You're on the list.

What are your thoughts about this story?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.