Lady Justice - Can You Get a DUI for Riding a Horse While Drunk in Utah?

Can You Get a DUI for Riding a Horse While Drunk in Utah?

You know how serious DUI Utah is and how important it is to find another way home. So is taking a horse instead of driving a good alternative? Here’s what you should know.

Have You Been Arrested for a DUI on a Horse?

You can’t be convicted of DUI in Utah for riding a horse. The Utah Supreme Court decided this back in 1986 in a case called State v. Blowers. Two people were convicted of DUI for riding horses down a public street after they had been drinking. They appealed on the grounds that the Utah DUI statute bars operating a vehicle while intoxicated and a horse is not a vehicle. The Supreme Court agreed with their interpretation of the law and overturned the DUI convictions.

Charged With Other Crimes While Riding a Horse Drunk?

Not being able to be charged with DUI for riding a horse doesn’t mean that the state of Utah can’t charge you with other crimes for riding a horse while drunk. The most likely charges are public intoxication or disorderly conduct.

Back in 2010, a Layton man was charged with public intoxication for riding a horse while drunk on a five-lane road. He knew he was too drunk to drive but wanted to go to the store for cigarettes. Police arrested him after complaints from drivers that a horse was stepping in front of cars going up to 50 miles per hour.

A police spokesman at the time also mentioned the possibility of animal cruelty charges because the man had placed the horse in danger. In a situation where a person was injured or put at risk, the police could also presumably bring reckless endangerment or similar charges. The main idea is that while riding a horse might seem like a good way to avoid a DUI, it can still be a crime to be drunk in public, and there are also potential criminal consequences for things you may do while drunk in public.

Driving Under the Influence on a Horse-Drawn Carriage

When the Utah Supreme Court overturned DUI for riding a horse, it didn’t consider the possibility of someone being on a horse-drawn carriage or cart. Unlike a horse, which is clearly an animal, a judge might rule that a cart or carriage is a vehicle for the purposes of the DUI law. Something that could come into play is that a horse on its own can choose where to go but a horse pulling a cart needs more human direction. Since this issue has never been tested, the police would also probably charge public intoxication as a backup charge.

The Bottom Line of Horses and DUI’s

Even if you can’t technically get a DUI on a horse, it’s still a bad idea that can result in criminal charges. If you’ve already been charged with an offense related to riding a horse while drunk, contact a Utah DUI lawyer now.

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Craig R. Chlarson
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