Before motor vehicles became society's primary method of transportation, one of the most common ways for people to get around was using horses. Whether pulling wagons or carrying riders, horses helped people travel, work, and live their lives. Horses are still ridden, though nowadays it is more often as a form of recreation or as part of a sport like racing or show jumping.
However, sometimes horses are still used as a form of transportation. Which is exactly what occurred earlier this year when a man decided to take his horse home via a highway in California.
According to USA Today, in February of 2018, the California Highway Patrol stopped a man atop a horse who was traveling on State Route 91. CHP officers found that the “driver” was intoxicated and conducted had the driver complete breath tests so as to determine the amount of alcohol in his system. The tests results showed that he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.21 percent and 0.19 percent. The man was subsequently placed under arrest for “riding a horse under the influence.” The horse was uninjured and returned to the man's mother.
The gentlemen in California is not the only driver who has been charged with a DUI while riding a horse as of late. In November 2017, a woman in Florida was stopped while riding her horse on a busy highway north of Tampa. She was also charged with driving under the influence. However, according to a Washington Post interview, several local attorneys were skeptical about the chances that the charge would actually be upheld.
Surprisingly, riding a horse while drunk can result in DUI charges in certain states. For example, in California it is against the law. According to the Washington Post, a California appellate court determined in 1993 that “people riding animals on the highway are subject to the same rules as the drivers of automobiles, meaning people must ride their animals at a reasonably safe speed and avoid reckless behavior.”
However, other states have come to a different conclusion on this issue. The Post reported that Montana is one such state. An individual riding a horse in big sky country “can't be arrested for driving under the influence, because [the] state's law criteria for a vehicle in a DUI excludes devices moved by ‘animal power.'” Likewise, in Louisiana a driver can ride a horse home without facing any DUI charges. According to a 2015 Huffington Post article, after visiting a daiquiri shop Mr. Jack Williams felt that he was too inebriated to get behind the wheel so he chose to ride his horse home instead. He told the local news station, “When you get a little too much to drink, why not ride a horse? . . . It's safer that way. The horse knows the way home.” Though he was stopped by law enforcement, he wasn't charged as a horse isn't a motorized vehicle. Williams did receive a ticket for public intoxication, however.
Whether or not the DUI charge is upheld in court, it is important to take this and any criminal charge seriously. If you have been accused of driving while under the influence, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced Georgia DUI attorneys today.