Can You Get a DUI on a Horse?
DUI on a horse. Is that even possible? You might be surprised to learn that DUI on a horse charges have been filed against people before, even in 2009 (contrary to popular belief, there was no such thing as DUI in the times when horse riding was the prevalent mode of travel). Which reminds me, this isn’t some kind of quirky, tricky article to try to get you to read about nothing. I won’t be talking about DUI law in the 1880’s. This is an analysis of today’s DUI laws and what riding a horse drunk might get you today.
Because I am a Seattle, Washington DUI attorney, I’m going to use Seattle DUI law in my example analysis of whether or not you can get a DUI on a horse. And although I can’t be certain, this may be one of those rare occasions when the law of Seattle actually applies across the board to all fifty states. Whether or not that is true, however, I must request that if you have a DUI question and you are not in Seattle, please contact a DUI lawyer in your state and discuss your problems with them. The laws from state to state can be different, so to make an informed decision, you need to know the laws of your state.
Let’s set the scene for the DUI on a horse test case. It begins like any other day. You go out to your buddies to ride his horses (he lives in one of those residential developments that has the built in equestrian trails throughout the subdivision). But, before you ride, you are going to watch the Mariner’s game on TV. During the game, since it is a Saturday and all, you decide to drink a couple of beers. And a couple turns into ten. By the end of the game you are pretty drunk, but you saddle up the horse and ride off anyway.
About half way through the ride you are on a residential street transitioning between trails when a Seattle cop pulls up and asks you what you are doing. You tell him, and he asks you to get off the horse to investigate further. Although you didn’t realize it until that point, you still have all of your Mariner’s gear on, including the full uniform (you are a big fan). As the Seattle cop talks to you he asks you if you’ve been drinking. You say yes, and then agree to take some field sobriety tests. And then you get arrested for Seattle DUI.
When you finally talk to your Seattle DUI attorney, he says he can immediately get the charges dropped. But how? Let’s take a look at the DUI statute to figure it out.
RCW 46.61.502 states that drunk driving is operating a vehicle in this state while under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs. Seattle DUI can be proven in three ways: (1) a breathalyzer test over .08; (2) showing signs of intoxication by alcohol or drugs; or (3) showing signs of intoxication by alcohol and drugs.
But the analysis doesn’t begin there, because there is an earlier step involved. The definition of “vehicle.” And vehicle, as you might imagine, encompasses many things – but they all have engines and wheels, and move because of some kind of machinery. I’d spell out the definition of vehicle, but it is too long. But, I can tell you one thing, vehicle does not include horses.
So, there you go. It is impossible to be convicted of Seattle DUI on a horse. It doesn’t work because a horse doesn’t qualify as a vehicle, and operating a vehicle is a necessary element of the crime. This does not mean, however, that you could not be charged with other crimes, or that you should ride a horse drunk. If you didn’t know, it can really hurt to fall off a horse.