Pull in the Reins: Getting a DUI on a Horse Is Stranger Than Fiction

By April 29, 2019 No Comments
DUI on a horse

Every few months, a story pops up in the news about DUI on a horse. It often goes viral.

Take a story from Florida in 2017. In that case, a 53-year-woman got arrested after police said she rode a horse while drunk for 10 to 15 miles. She was also looking at an animal neglect charge. 

But someone getting charged with DUI on a horse is not the same thing as them getting convicted. It all depends on state and local laws. 

Texans have a well-established love of horseback riding. But is it illegal to ride a horse drunk in Texas? Keep reading to find out more.

Horse DUI and Texas Laws

A lot depends on how your state defines vehicles. Texas refers to DUI in association with “motor vehicles.”

The obvious definition is a vehicle with a motor. While horses technically run on horsepower, it’s not the kind that comes from an engine. 

But let’s dig a little deeper and look at exactly how Texas defines a motor vehicle. State code defines it as “a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.”

There don’t appear to be any specific references to horses or animals. That means if you’re arrested for DUI on a horse, your lawyer could argue that a horse doesn’t count because it’s not a “device,” and it definitely has no motor.

That’s more or less how things shook out with two men arrested in Austin in 2011. One man was riding a horse, while the other was on a mule. But local prosecutors decided neither animal qualified as either a motor vehicle or device.

The men weren’t home-free, though. They still ended up getting charged with public intoxication

Don’t Drink and Ride

Does this mean you should take your horse with you the next time you go out drinking? It does not.

You can still get arrested for drunk driving. Look at the above cases. The police thought they had enough evidence to make an arrest.

It turns out they were wrong, at least in the view of that particular prosecutor. But that doesn’t make riding a horse after drinking a good idea.

Getting arrested makes your life more complicated. If the charges aren’t dropped within a couple of hours, you’re going to need a DWI attorney. And facing DWI charges in Texas is no picnic.

You’ll have to pay for things like bail and attorney fees even if the charges get dropped within a few days or weeks. There are much better ways to get home after a night of partying.

If you’re out with friends, you can and should appoint a designated driver at the beginning of the night. If you don’t do that, calling a cab or Uber is much cheaper than getting arrested for any form of DUI. 

DUI On a Horse: The Bottom Line

Can you get a DUI on a horse? There’s no easy answer to that. In Texas, you’re more likely to get arrested than convicted.

If you do get busted for DUI on a horse, don’t try to argue with arresting officers. You should instead call an experienced defense attorney.

Got more questions about DUI in Texas? Contact us today.