Riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn cart is still a common mode of transportation in some parts of the country. Because it is not entirely uncommon to see people out and about riding horseback or driving by horse and carriage, it raises the question of Can You Get a DUI on a Horse?
In fact, you can get a DUI while riding a horse in some cases. While a horseback DUI is much rarer than a vehicular DUI, this crime can still be judged and punished to the full extent of the law. Find out what it takes to be charged with intoxicated horseback-riding and what the full answer is for Can You Get a DUI on a Horse in your state.
The Legal Definition of a Horse as a Vehicle
The most significant point of contention when answering Can You Get a DUI on a Horse centers on whether or not the state in which you live defines a horse as a type of vehicle. At first glance, the answer to this dilemma seems obvious. Naturally, a horse is not like a car or truck and thus should not be classified as any type of vehicle at all.
In reality, however, states have the right to classify a horse as a vehicle if it is used as a primary or secondary mode of transportation. People in many parts of the country still use horses to haul crops and farm equipment, go to the local store, or visit neighbors. It is in these states that you will likely find horses in the same category as a car or truck in terms of DUI laws.
More specifically, intoxicated horseback riding and horse-drawn carriage driving are illegal in states like:
These and other states are home to large populations of farmers as well as Mennonites, Amish, and other religious groups that rely on horseback riding or cart driving as one of their main modes of transportation. As such, these states are more likely to issue a DUI while riding a horse if you are over the legal blood-alcohol content, or BAC, when you are detained by the police. The legal BAC content in all 50 states is 0.08 percent.
If you are issued a horseback DUI, will you be charged with a felony or misdemeanor? As with driving a car or truck while intoxicated, you could face either type of charges depending on the circumstances that apply to your case.
Misdemeanor and Felony Horseback Riding DUI Charges
The court has the discretion of charging you with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances that apply to your inebriated horseback riding case. You more than likely will be charged with a misdemeanor or even a traffic citation as long as you did not harm anyone or damage anyone’s property. You also could be charged with animal cruelty, which itself a misdemeanor in many cases.
A misdemeanor or traffic citation can result in lesser punishments that include a civil fine or being sentenced to community service. It is unlikely that you will have to serve time in city or county jail if you are charged with a misdemeanor or if you are given a traffic citation.
However, if you did harm or kill someone or damaged someone’s property, you could be charged with a felony. You also could face felony charges if your BAC was significantly over the legal limit or if you are a repeat DUI offender.
Felony horseback riding convictions are typically punished by:
- steep civil fines
- jail or prison sentences
- community service
- house arrest
- court-ordered rehabilitation or counseling
You could receive any number of these punishments for being intoxicated while riding a horse. The court will treat your DUI offense with the same seriousness as if you were driving a car or truck while intoxicated.
Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony for riding a horse while drunk or high, it is important that you retain a DUI attorney who knows the state DUI and DWI laws. An attorney could help you avoid the harshest penalties of this crime. He or she may also be able to get the charges against you dropped or reduced.
Why Hire a DUI Lawyer for a Horse Riding DUI?
Why should you retain a DUI lawyer after you have been ticketed or arrested for drunken horseback riding? After all, could you not take your chances in court and simply represent yourself in your case? How bad could the punishment be for simply riding a horse after you have had a few too many?
In fact, you could face severe punishments that not only disrupt your life but also put your legal and financial future at risk. Judges are typically not amused when they hear court cases that involve driving while intoxicated. This crime not only puts your life at risk but jeopardizes the safety of the public.
Still, judges must abide by the state law when meting out punishment to you. It is for this reason that you can benefit by having a DUI lawyer represent you in court. Your attorney will know what those laws are and how to use them to your advantage to help you avoid the harshest sentences and punishments for riding a horse while intoxicated.
For example, the state laws may allow for lighter sentencing for people who are first-time offenders. If you have never before ridden a horse while inebriated let alone driven a car while drunk, you could stand a better chance of having the charges against you dropped or reduced significantly. As long as you did not harm anyone or any kind of property, you may even be let off with a warning from the judge.
However, if you are a repeat offender, you could be sentenced to harsher punishments that include jail time and court mandated rehab. When you would rather settle the case out of court or take a plea bargain, it is important that you get a lawyer on retainer and allow him or her to advocate for your best interests. With a lawyer’s help, you may avoid going to jail and instead have to pay a civil fine or attend support group meetings for alcoholics.
How can you find a DUI lawyer who knows the state laws about inebriated horseback riding or driving a horse-drawn carriage while drunk? You may be able to locate one who can take your case by asking your friends and family members for a referral. As noted, agricultural states like Kentucky still consider horseback riding and horse-drawn wagons to be valid modes of transportation. Chances are that someone you know in these states knows a lawyer who has handled these types of cases in the past.
If you cannot afford to hire a DUI attorney, you could ask the court to appoint one for you. You are entitled to legal representation even if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
Farmers, ranchers, certain religious groups, and many others still value horses as a valid mode of transportation. Horseback riding and driving horse-drawn carriages and carts are still legitimate methods of travel in some states especially those that have a lot of rural areas, farms, and ranches.
Still, the laws in these states and elsewhere in the U.S. demand that riders be sober when taking their horses or horse-drawn vessels out on the roadways. People whose BACs are over the limit could be arrested for driving under the influence even if they are not behind the wheel of a car or truck.
DUIs for horseback riders can incur the same range of punishments and fines. Avoid both by hiring a DUI lawyer who knows what laws apply to riding a horse while intoxicated in your state.