Whether it is known as a DUI or a DWI where you live, the act is uniformly dangerous. No matter where it is you you’re from, driving a vehicle while you are under the influence of an intoxicating substance puts the safety of you and the people around you in needless and serious jeopardy. It might surprise you to know, however, that motorized vehicles are not the only vehicles subject to intoxication laws. Non-motorized vehicles, such as horses and animal-drawn vehicles, are also illegal to operate while intoxicated. It might also surprise you to know that these laws have been enforced. That’s right, people. Here are a few examples of instances where people have let their good times take the reins.
DANNY REYNOLDS, 55, KENTUCKY
In 2012 in Jessamine County, Kentucky, Mr. Reynolds was apparently celebrating his son’s birthday with a trail ride on horseback near where he lived. Being a diabetic requires Mr. Reynolds to take frequent breaks throughout the day to balance his blood sugar with food. It was on one of these breaks along the trail that he was approached by a deputy and told to dismount from his horse. When asked about what seemed to be intoxicated behavior by the law enforcement officer, he insisted that he was light-headed as a result of his diabetes. Reynolds later admitted to having a couple of beers, adding that he didn’t normally drink, but had made an exception while celebrating his son’s birthday.
The exact number of beers or alcoholic beverages consumed by Mr. Reynolds that day cannot be confirmed. What we do know is that when he was tested, he had a blood alcohol content that was twice the legal limit, which is .08% for people who are over the age of 21. We also know that he was also in possession of additional beer, marijuana and a jar of what he admitted was ‘moonshine’. Whatever really unfolded that day, Danny Reynolds apparently considered the ordeal to be a wakeup call. He was quoted saying, “I really didn’t mean to cause any harm. I definitely learned my lesson and I hope other riders pay attention.”
JOHN BYLER, 19, PENNSYLVANIA
We have all heard tales of teen drinking and driving, but very rarely are those teens Amish and driving a buggy. However, that was exactly the case with John Byler in October 2017. Then 19-year-old Byler was driving his horse-drawn buggy in New Wilmington when an officer noticed that he did not have the proper lights on during his drive. When the officer approached the buggy and notified the young man of the oversight, the officer noticed Byler struggling to maintain control of the horse. He complied with the officer’s request to turn on his lights, but after a bit more investigation of the odd situation, the officer determined that John Byler had been drinking.
John Byler’s blood alcohol level was only .056%, but that is over two times the legal limit for someone who is younger than the legal drinking age of 21. And since a buggy is considered a vehicle in New Wilmington, that means Byler’s boozy buggy ride met all the criteria for a DUI.
ROBERT MILLER, 18, PENNSYLVANIA
On July 8, 2016, in the town of Rossiter in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, a State Trooper spotted a buggy that appeared to have people riding dangerously and unlawfully at the top. When he pulled over the buggy, the officer discovered 18-year-old Robert Miller and his four friends (also minors) riding in and on a buggy that was built to safely transport only two passengers. When pulled over for the blatant traffic violation, Miller appeared to be intoxicated. When questioned, the minors all admitted to having consumed alcohol previous to and during the buggy ride. Miller was not only driving an over-crowded buggy, but it was also filled with 20 cans and bottles of unopened beer. The unopened alcohol was seized by the officer along with two open cans of beer.
Being suspected of being under the influence, Robert Miller was arrested and taken into custody. He consented to a blood test that revealed his blood alcohol content to be .065%. Given that the legal blood alcohol content limit is .02% for minors, this landed Mr. Miller with a formal DUI charge in addition to his other various violations.
Typically, distracted car and truck drivers are the leading cause of buggy and horse traffic fatalities. There is a lot that can be done to mitigate the potential threat posed by motor vehicle traffic. There are also steps that those who ride horses and drive buggies can do to stay safe while driving. This certainly includes staying sober behind the reins. We all deserve to be on the road, regardless of whether the vehicle is mechanical or animal. This means all of us have a responsibility to keep ourselves and each other safe, no matter what it is we drive.