On the morning of January 28, 1896, a landmark in the history of transport was made—albeit by an unsuspecting local police constable, in the sleepy English village of Paddock Wood in Kent, 40 miles outside London.

As he cycled his usual route through the village, the unnamed constable’s normal morning routine was suddenly shattered by the sight and sound of an early Benz motor car tearing its way through the local neighborhood at a heady 8mph. That speed might not sound all too impressive these days, but at the time in England, the legal speed limit for motorized vehicles on English roads was just 2mph—meaning the driver of the car in question was behaving extraordinarily recklessly.

As a result, the police constable took up the chase, and for the next five miles, he remained in pursuit of the car on his bicycle, as it trundled its way through the winding country roads of Paddock Wood and the surrounding countryside. Eventually, the driver, a gentleman named Walter Arnold, stopped his car, and the exhausted constable was finally able to issue him with the very first speeding ticket in the history of motorized transport.

The story proved something of a sensation in late Victorian England, with the London Daily News reporting that Mr. Arnold and his “horseless carriage” were to be charged on four separate counts: driving a “locomotive without a horse”; having fewer than three people in charge of his horseless locomotive; failing to have his name and address inscribed somewhere on the chassis of the vehicle; and, lastly, the speeding fine itself — breaking the legal limit more than fourfold.

At his trial at Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent a few days later, Arnold’s defense team put forward the case that the laws at that time were based on horse-drawn carriages, locomotives, and other increasingly outdated modes of transport. Arnold’s motorcar, they argued, could not and should not be subject to the same rules. Unfortunately, the court disagreed, and Arnold was fined 5 shillings — plus £2 and 11 pence costs — for “using a carriage without a locomotive horse,” equivalent to around £200 ($260) today.

On each of the other three charges, he was fined 1 shilling plus 9 shillings costs (equivalent to £45/$60 today). In summing up, the court explained that Arnold could have avoided at least one of the punitive charges put against him if he had followed the rules of the road at the time and safely driven his car with someone walking ahead of it waving a red warning flag.

The entire debacle may have ended up costing Mr. Arnold the equivalent of over $400, but it seems that the trial itself, and the media buzz that surrounded it, may have proved something of a boon for him. Arnold was one of England’s earliest motorcar dealers, responsible for importing new Benz models from mainland Europe. The commotion surrounding his case, ultimately, might have proved to be useful publicity for his business, with interest in motorized transport already growing at the end of the 19th century.

It’s also likely that the case helped to modernize the laws surrounding motor vehicles, which went on to be redrawn by the end of the year. From 1897 onwards, it was officially deemed no longer necessary to have at least three people in charge of a single moving vehicle at any one time. Nor was it necessary any longer to have a flag bearer walk in front of your car as you drove it. The speed limit on England’s roads, meanwhile, was eventually raised from a somewhat restrictive 2mph to a mind-boggling 14 mph. It seems Arnold’s speeding ticket proved a landmark in more ways than one!