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Recently, when we were out on a path, several of the other riders were riding their horses while intoxicated. Knowing these people were riding horses above the legal alcohol limit for driving a car on roadways made me wonder if they could be charged with a DUI on their horse.
You can get charged with DUI while riding a horse in some states; however, most states’ laws limit DUI violations to motor vehicles’ operation, and horseback riding doesn’t fall under these statutes. Check your state’s laws before you decide to drink and drive since DUI laws vary by state.
Many trail riders like drinking alcohol but don’t consider getting a DUI. However, they should because being charged with a DUI on a horse can happen, and if you get one, it is costly.
Can you be charged with a DUI while riding a horse?
DUI laws are typically written with motor vehicles in mind, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be charged with a DUI while riding a horse. Depending on where you live, you might possibly be charged with a DUI if you are discovered riding a horse while intoxicated.
Each state has laws governing DUI offenses; in some, a horse is exempt from DUI laws; in other others, however, a person may be prosecuted with a DUI while riding a horse if their blood alcohol level is over the legal limit.
But it’s crucial to remember that being arrested for a DUI with a horse is probably only going to happen if you were making a commotion in the public or endangering yourself or others.
To provide a general summary of the current DUI laws and how they apply to horseback riding throughout the US, I’ll explore the different state legislation and cases in the parts that follow this article.
Can You Get a DUI On a Horse in Louisiana?
Horseback riding and drinking are popular pastimes in Louisiana. So, I thought it a good idea to provide information on how the DUI laws apply to drunk horseback riding; plus, it’s the state where I live.
Horses are plainly excluded from the Louisiana DUI Act, according to a simple reading of it. A DUI charge for riding your horse drunk may not be applicable, but this doesn’t mean you are scot-free.
The short answer is no Before we continue, however, let’s take a closer look at what Louisiana’s DUI rules define as intoxicated.
An individual under the age of 21 who has a BAC ( blood alcohol concentration ) of 0.02 percent or an adult over the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.08 percent is considered legally drunk in Louisiana.
The legislation concerning DUI in Louisiana is found in RS 14:98. This law forbids driving while under the influence of alcohol. The law declares:
A.(1) Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime. any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means……. http://legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=78751
In 2015 a man near Baton Rouge got legally intoxicated at a daiquiri shop and hopped on his horse to ride home. A policeman saw the unusual pair racing along a roadway before he could turn around.
The police quickly realized the guy was intoxicated. The officer, aware of Louisiana DWI law, knew charging the rider with DWI was not an option, so he ticketed him for public drunkenness and required a family member to pick him up along with his designated driver (the horse).
Watch the news report on the incident, wbrz.com/news/drunk-cowboy
Can You Get a DWI/DUI On a Horse in Texas?
Recently we traveled to Texas for the Fort Worth Stockshow and saw people riding horses in town, many after drinking way too much alcohol. I was wondering whether the Texas DUI rules applied to equestrian riders after seeing these intoxicated people riding horses.
According to Texas DWI legislation, a person must operate a motor vehicle in order to be charged with DWI. The definition includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, motorboats, and aircraft.
Nothing in Texas DWI statute mentions riding horses. Lawmakers chose not to add language to include ride horses drunk in their DWI laws.
Since police officers are likely unfamiliar with drunk horseback riding laws, they may charge a rider with DWI. But the accusation would presumably be withdrawn or downgraded to animal endangerment.
The Austin example that follows clarifies this idea. Two men were riding their horses drunk on the streets of Austin (actually, only one was on a horse, and the other was riding a mule).
They were detained and given a DWI charge. Eventually, the district attorney dropped the charges because they determined horses don’t fit the description of a “motor vehicle.”
Can You Get a DUI On a Horse in California?
California is home to several equestrian riding preserves, all of which are subject to strict regulations. I’m curious to know California’s DUI position concerning horseback riding.
It is illegal to ride a horse while intoxicated on public roadways in California. A person riding an animal on a California road must adhere to the vehicle laws, according to California Vehicle Code Section 21050. The California DUI rules apply to people riding animals, the court said in People v. Fong.
Has anybody ever been charged with DWI for mounting a horse while intoxicated in California? Yes, in 2018, a man riding his white steed on the freeway with a blood alcohol content of .021 was arrested and charged under the California DWI code.
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse In North Carolina?
North Carolina’s mountains are stunning and a great destination for trail riding. But what is the state’s position on riding a horse drunk on public roads?
Riding a horse while inebriated is illegal in North Carolina. In the case of State v. Dellinger, the court found a horseback rider guilty of DWI for riding his horse on a public road with a blood alcohol content above the legal limits. Citation for the case is 73 N.C. App. 685. (1985).
In Dellinger, the court found that a person riding a horse was bound by the same laws as any person operating a vehicle on a public roadway. The court also came to the conclusion that horses qualified as vehicles.
The legislature has tried in vain over the years to exclude horses from the DWI legislation.
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in Michigan?
When we sent a racehorse to run at a racetrack in Michigan, I was surprised by the state’s large horse community. Because there were so many horses around, I questioned if it was against Michigan’s regulations to ride a horse while intoxicated.
Horseback riding is exempt from Michigan’s DWI laws since it doesn’t involve driving a car. Ironically, Michigan’s definition of a vehicle does include a horse. But you must be driving while intoxicated in order to be found guilty under Michigan’s DUI statutes.
On Michigan roadways, inebriated horseback riders may be prosecuted with offenses other than DUI, such as public intoxication or drunk and disorderly behavior.
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in Colorado?
We often saw horseback riders on the road while traveling through the mountain towns in western Colorado. The frequency of riders made me wonder if Colorado has a DUI law prohibiting riding horses drunk.
Under Colorado DUI laws, a person can not be charged for riding a horse on the road drunk, but they can be charged under a different statute. Other than a DUI, Colorado prohibits riding animals while intoxicated on its highways.
Colorado DUI statutes state that it’s a violation of the law for a person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Horses are obviously not automobiles.
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in Kentucky?
Kentucky is home to horses, bluegrass fields, and fine bourbon, a combination that’s surely resulted in horseback riding and drinking. So how do Kentucky’s DUI laws treat drunken horseback riding on public roads?
In Kentucky, it is against the law to ride a horse on public roadways while intoxicated. Offenders will get a ticket and face legal action. As a matter of fact, Kentucky DUI is so broad they can ticket you for being drunk on the streets sitting in just about anything, including a wheelchair.
However, others argue that by include horses in the definition of a vehicle, the courts have gone too far. Regardless of the result, you can be charged and convicted in Kentucky for DUI on horseback.
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in Washington State?
Washington state is known for being liberal and having more relaxed laws than other areas of the country. I was curious about how they handled DUIs and horseback riding because of their carefree approach.
The DUI laws of Washington State do not apply to intoxicated horseback riding. Washington statute RCW 46.61.502 requires operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs to be found guilty of DUI.
“Any vehicle that is self-propelled and any vehicle that is propelled by electric power acquired from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails” are the definitions of “motor vehicle” in Washington. https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.04.320
Accordingly, a conviction for DUI while on a horse is not possible because a horse is not a vehicle, a necessary element of the crime of DUI. Of course, there’s a chance that you’ll be accused of other offenses as well, such animal cruelty or being intoxicated in public. The charges in each instance will be determined by the specifics.
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in Florida?
Our dear buddy has a horse property in northern Florida where they often host events. Some of the lads recently crossed a busy street on their horses after becoming intoxicated. Did they face a DUI charge?
DUI rules in Florida make it illegal to ride a horse while intoxicated on public roads. A car is considered a “device” under Florida DUI legislation. Although it is obvious that a horse is not a gadget, this hasn’t stopped law enforcement from accusing individuals of DUI while mounted.
In 2017 a 53-year-old woman who seemed disoriented was riding her horse on a highway. When the police were called by a bypasser, they discovered she was disoriented and lost.
A sobriety and BAC (blood alcohol content) test were given by the cops. The testing revealed the rider had twice the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream, prompting charges of driving under the influence and animal neglect.
To her litany of offences, the state added accusations of disorderly drunkenness, endangering animals, and culpable carelessness. Since a horse is not a vehicle per Florida law, the DUI will be dropped more than likely. Could this be the basis for the D.A.’s increased charges?
Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in Tennessee?
Beautiful Tennessee has a long history of horses, music, and whiskey. Mixing two of the three could cause problems if Tennessee has a law prohibiting riding horses when drunk.
Horses are not covered by Tennessee’s DUI statutes. The law is clear; you can only get a DUI when operating a motor vehicle. In Tennessee, a horse is not considered to be a motor vehicle. Tennessee has other laws to charge a drunk horseback rider, with some having as harsh a punishment as DUI .
However, under Tennessee law, a homeowner can be charged with DUI for cutting his grass while intoxicated. Section 55-10-402 of the Tennessee Code Annotated, which prohibits being physically in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence, is the relevant Tennessee legislation.
Riders of lawnmowers are covered under this legislation. Tennesse courts have held a motor-driven vehicle to be any “self-propelled’ vehicle. State v. Freels is cited. This could lead to absurd results.
Can You Get A DUI While Driving a Horse-Drawn Carriage
We saw a lot of horse-drawn carriages on the road in Pennsylvania. The high number of carriages made me wonder how they were treated under the DUI laws.
It is a violation of DUI laws to operate a carriage or a horse and buggy on the roads drunk in most states. Horses and buggies are often seen on Pennsylvanian roads. Naturally, the same traffic regulations that govern automobiles also govern carriages and carts.
Many states with a significant population of horse-drawn carriages expressly prohibit their operation while intoxicated. Click to learn more about huge draft breeds. here .
Is it legal to ride a horse drunk in Montana?
The Montana Department of Transportation promoted horseback riding in a television commercial. This ad made me feel confident that their DUI laws wouldn’t include horses.
Under state DUI rules, drunk horseback riding is not a felony in Montana. The state DUI law requires that a vehicle not be animal-powered to meet the criteria for a vehicle in a DUI. Therefore, riding horses is not relevant. Wheelchairs and bicycles are also not permitted. View Code 61-1-101 in Montana (84) (a),
Riding a horse under the influence is legal in Montana . This issue came to the forefront when the Montana Department of Transportation released an advertisement depicting a horse tied outside a bar.
The idea was to encourage customers to prepare ahead and have a horse ready to ride home rather than driving drunk. The advertisement prompted people to question whether it is legal to ride a horse drunk in Montana.
Here is a Florida news report about a lady accused of driving under the influence while mounted on a horse on YouTube.
Sonja Bradley is an attorney licensed in the State of Louisiana and experienced in Louisiana DUI law. This piece is informational only; it does not constitute legal counsel.
To preserve your rights if you have been accused of a crime or need legal representation, get in touch with an accomplished criminal lawyer in your state. Driving a car or riding a horse on a road drunk is never a good idea. Click here to get there. Sonja Bradley’s website .
Sonja Bradley is a Licensed Attorney in the State of Louisiana. She has spent 18 years working in private practice.
1250 SW R.R. Ave.
Hammond LA 70403