I was with a few of my companions out drinking and they later suggested we take the horses out for a ride. Knowing they had the blood alcohol limit for driving on public roads in mind, it got me thinking about if that equated to getting arrested with DUI (driving under the influence) while being mounted on horseback?
Riding a horse can be dangerous, even if you’re sober. You could get charged with DUI in many states! This is because most laws limit DUI violations to the operation of motor vehicles. It is, however, not very clear how riding horses fit into those statutes since they are relatively safe for riders who follow safety precautions.
These laws are different from state to state, so check your state’s regulations before deciding whether or not drinking while on a horseback ride is worth risking getting slapped with some hefty fines and possible jail time.
While many people enjoy going for a trail ride and then have drinks, don’t forget about the horror of getting charged with DUI on horseback. If this happens to you it will cost more than just your alcohol money because if convicted you could be fined up to $2,500 or even go jail!
Can you get a DUI on a horse?
There are a number of drunk driving laws that apply to horseback riders. Do those animals count as “vehicles”? And does riding one while intoxicated constitutes DUI for riders in your state or country’s jurisdiction? In most cases, the rider is considered the driver and will be charged with DUI if they have been drinking.
In some states, it is only illegal for someone to ride a horse while intoxicated in certain circumstances – such as when they are taking part in an organized event or activity where alcohol consumption is prohibited.
If you’re riding your horse on public property without permission from the landowner then you could face fines as well and/or six months imprisonment at a minimum.
Let’s take a look at how each state handles these cases to see where drinking and horseback riding may be legal or illegal for that matter.
Each state has different laws governing DUIs and many do not consider horses to fall under the provisions of being intoxicated while operating an automobile or boat. I will review these specific rules and cases throughout this article which should provide you more insight as to how they apply specifically across different states in the US.
Can you ride a horse intoxicated??
It is clearly stated in the Driving under the influence (DUI) laws for most states that operators of vehicles should not drive when intoxicated by any substance. Blood alcohol level of a certain level can get you charged with driving under the influence. Also, some states will charge you with a DUI for being in actual physical operation of a vehicle even without driving it.
This causes some persons to wonder if a horse fits into the definition of a vehicle. In other words, can one get charged with DUI if they ride a horse drunk? The answer to this question isn’t straightforward and it depends on the state in question. While the answer may be unclear for some states, others tilt towards a yes or a no.
Let’s find out which states will charge you with a DUI for horseback riding drunk or the states that won’t. Note that DUI may be used interchangeably with DWI which means driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated and OVI; operating a vehicle while impaired.
The state of Alabama charges intoxicated operators of a vehicle as well as those in actual physical control of one. In regards to animals, a portion of the state’s code reads “a ridden animal shall be deemed a vehicle’’.
This means that riding a horse or any other animal while intoxicated will get you arrested for DUI and being in actual physical control of a horse will depend on the situation and how the prosecution argues. However, you may still be convicted so it’s best to avoid horses altogether when you’re drunk.
The state of Arizona operates under strict laws to prevent riders from operating motor vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Arizona requires the motor vehicle to be self-propelled and powered by fuel.
Horses don’t meet this definition so you won’t be charged with a DUI for riding a horse drunk in Arizona. However, if you meet the legal level of intoxication which means having a BAC above 0.08%, you may be charged with public intoxication, animal endangerment, disorderly conduct, or underage drinking depending on the situation.
In California, you are expected to obey the vehicle laws while riding an animal on public roads which include horses. DUI laws in California apply to horse riders. You can’t escape a DUI charge if you ride a horse drunk in California.
You can’t be charged with a DUI in Colorado as its definition of a motor vehicle doesn’t include horses. However, they have a different statute that prohibits people from riding animals while drunk on public roads, but defaulters won’t get charged with a DUI.
You can get charged with a DUI for horseback riding drunk in Florida. The DUI laws describe vehicles as devices. While this doesn’t include horses, it may not prevent you from getting charged with DUI if you ride a horse drunk. The charges will most likely be dropped eventually in court.
DUI laws don’t apply to horses in Idaho. According to the state’s laws, a device powered by animals isn’t considered a vehicle. This means that riding horses or horse-powered carriages under the influence in Idaho won’t get you charged with DUI.
To make you guilty of DUI, the laws in Illinois demands that the prosecution can prove that you were in physical control or operating a vehicle. It isn’t a requirement that the vehicle has a motor. This means that a horse can fit the definition of a vehicle depending on the prosecution.
The DUI laws in Kansas apply to horse riders as well. Kansas defines a vehicle as any device which transports humans or property. So, animals and animal-powered carriages qualify as vehicles in the state. You can be charged with DUI if you’re found to be intoxicated while riding a horse. Although your charges may be dismissed in court or lessened, it’s best to avoid the risk.
Kentucky has strict DUI laws. Riding a horse drunk on Kentucky roads is a sure-fire way to get yourself charged with DUI. You have to be careful in the state of Kentucky as you can easily get charged with a DUI here compared to other states.
The DUI laws governing the state of Louisiana don’t include horseback riding. The legal BAC level to get charged with DUI is 0.08% and 0.02% for underage drivers (below 21). Intoxicated drivers of any kind of motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or vessel will be charged with DUI in the state of Louisiana. An officer can charge you with public drunkenness for horse riding drunk so it’s wise to be careful.
The straightforward answer to whether horseback riders get charged with DUI in Maine is no. Riding a horse under the influence won’t get you arrested for DUI in Maine.
Maryland is among the states in the US that’ll arrest horse riders for DUI. According to the state laws, a vehicle encompasses any device which transports individuals or properties along the highway. Horses serve as a means of transportation so riders are expected to uphold the DUI statutes in Maryland.
The DUI laws in Michigan don’t affect horse riders. It is quite ironic that a horse is included in the state’s definition of a vehicle. However, to be charged with DUI in Michigan requires you to be in operation of a motor vehicle when intoxicated. This doesn’t prevent you from getting charged with lesser crimes like public drunkenness if you’re found intoxicated while horseback riding.
Minnesota’s DWI laws apply to anyone in operation or physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence. Horses and even bicycles aren’t included in the state’s definition of a vehicle so horse riders can’t be defaulters of the DWI laws.
Missouri doesn’t consider a horse or buggy to be a vehicle. You may get charged with DWI for using a lawnmower while under the influence because it is motorized so it falls into the state’s definition of a vehicle.
Montana has an interesting perspective when it comes to horseback riding. DUI laws do not affect horseback riding in Montana. It’s argued to be legal. An ad was released by the dept. of transportation in Montana which encouraged horseback riding from the bar instead of cars. Montana’s DUI laws also demand that a vehicle isn’t powered by animals.
Intoxicated horse riders aren’t defaulters of New Jersey’s DUI statutes because horses aren’t motor vehicles. The term horse may include every domestic animal used to carry burdens.
In New Mexico, you may be charged with DUI if you ride an animal while intoxicated. You can also be charged for animal cruelty as the animal is also endangered. Horseback riders are at risk of getting charged with DUI if they’re intoxicated.
In the state of North Carolina, you violate the DUI statutes if you ride a horse when intoxicated. A horse is included in the definition of a vehicle so horseback riders are expected to abide by similar laws as any other vehicle operator.
Horse riders have been exempted from drinking and driving laws in North Dakota. However, you may get lesser charges like traffic violation and speeding. Bicycle riders are also exempted from DUI charges.
You won’t get charged with a DUI for horseback riding in Ohio. However, when a horse is pulling a wheeled carriage, it is considered a vehicle. Vehicles include anything that moves on wheels. Operators of a horse-driven carriage can get charged with an OVI.
The DUI laws of Oregon don’t apply to horseback riders. You can’t get arrested for DUI for riding a horse while you’re intoxicated.
Pennsylvania is known for having lots of horse-drawn carriages plying the roads. The laws which apply to vehicles also affect carriages or wagon because they qualify as vehicles in Pennsylvania. This means you are in violation of the DUI laws if you’re found to be intoxicated while riding a horse and buggy or operating an animal-drawn carriage.
The state of South Carolina does not charge horseback riders with DUI. According to the state laws, a horse does not fall under the definition of a vehicle so the DUI laws don’t apply to horse riding.
Riding a horse drunk is also against the law and you may be charged with DUI in South Dakota if an officer confirms that you’re impaired or intoxicated.
You’ll need to be in operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated to get charged with a DUI in Tennessee. However, other laws cover drunken horseback riders. The charges may be as severe as getting a DUI charge.
The DWI laws in Texas require the operator of a motor vehicle to be intoxicated. Horse riding isn’t included in Texas DUI/DWI laws. If you get charged with a DWI for riding a horse drunk in Texas by an officer, the charges will eventually get reduced to something less severe like animal endangerment.
The DUI laws of Virginia clearly state prevents drivers from being intoxicated while in the operation of a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles here don’t include horses. However, it’s best to not ride a horse when you’re drunk.
The DUI statutes in Washington don’t include horseback riding. Horses don’t fit into the state’s definition of a vehicle so you can’t be charged with DUI in Washington. You may have to face other charges, including animal cruelty or public drunkenness.
Wisconsin would not typically charge you with a DUI when horse riding as even bicycles are not considered to be vehicles.
You won’t get charged with DUI for riding a horse in Wyoming. However, you might get arrested for something like public drunkenness.
Interestingly, a good number of states don’t have clear laws when it comes to dealing with intoxicated horse riders. DUI laws are targeted towards riders of vehicles but every state has its definition of a vehicle. Having a motor may or may not be a requirement for a device to be subject to a state’s DUI/DWI statutes.
It is unclear how states like New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Nebraska, and other states not listed above will handle intoxicated horse riders.
However, we know a horse may either qualify as a vehicle or be exempted from the state’s DUI statutes. You can also get lesser charges, including animal cruelty and endangerment. If you do get charged with DUI for riding a horse drunk, speak to your lawyer to learn the best steps to take.