Can You Get a Ticket for Riding a Horse While Intoxicated?
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Can You Get a Ticket for Riding a Horse While Intoxicated?

August 17, 2019


MmmJeremy asks: If I’m drunk and can’t drive,
could I legally ride my horse home instead? To begin with, in the vast majority of countries
on Earth, “driving under the influence” is usually defined as “operating a vehicle after
imbibing an alcoholic beverage or drug to the extent that [your] mental faculties are
impaired”. So, given nobody in day to day speech would
call a horse a vehicle, you might think you can’t possibly get cited for driving under
the influence when riding one. But let’s dig a little deeper, because it
turns out drinking and driving laws do indeed apply to horses in some cases. If you think that’s a little bizarre, just
wait until the bonus fact later when we discuss the illegality of driving after you eat at
Olive Garden in some countries. In any event, as with seemingly everything
to do with law, the answer to this question is complicated and varies not just by country,
but sometimes within countries, like the U.S., by state. With that caveat out of the way, for the easy
answer- if the horse is pulling a cart, then almost universally yes the horse / buggy combo
counts as vehicle. This is because in most regions almost anything
with wheels on the road is considered a vehicle outside of some exceptions like wheel chairs,
or in a few regions where a motor is explicitly required for something to be defined as a
vehicle. Thus, with exceptions like Montana whose definition
of “vehicle” explicitly notes “except devices moved by animal power”, if you’re riding or
driving a horse that is pulling some sort of cart on a road, you can potentially be
cited for driving under the influence. For example, in December of 2009 in Lancaster
County, Pennsylvania, police pulled over a 22 year old Amish man, Elmer Stoltzfoos, who
was operating a horse drawn buggy on a public roadway while drunk. Although, “operating” is perhaps too strong
of a word as Stoltzfoos was actually slumped over asleep in the buggy at the time, with
the horse seemingly knowing the way home and taking him there along the road. When Stoltzfoos was subjected to a breathalyzer
test, he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18, slightly over twice the legal limit. But what about if there is no cart? We’ll start with the easy one here as well-
the UK, where it is indeed illegal to ride a horse while intoxicated. This is thanks to the Licensing Act of 1872
which, among other things, states “Every person… who is drunk while in charge on any highway
or other public place of any carriage, horse, cattle or steam engine… shall be liable
to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings or in the discretion of the court to imprisonment
for any term not exceeding one month.” As breathalyzers were not a thing back then,
this law does not specify any precise level of intoxication needed, leaving it to the
officer’s discretion. Now, if you, like us, wondered if this rather
old and obscure law is ever still enforced, it turns out- yes. For example, in January of 2009 a very drunk
31 year old Godfrey Blacklin was riding a horse named Bart bareback in Newcastle. When the obviously intoxicated man couldn’t
even write down his address for the officers, despite claiming he’d only had “a couple of
cans”, he was subsequently taken into custody and charged under said 1872 Act. Rather than “40 shillings,” however, his fine
was £150 plus an addition £35 levied for Justice of the Peace costs. Moving over to the United States, this varies
from state to state, but many states classify horses as “vehicles” when on the road. This is done in a few different ways- sometimes
explicitly in the original wording of the laws and defining of “vehicle”, other times
via court cases where precedent has been established to help define that term, or in some cases
having other traffic laws that directly deal with riding horses while intoxicated separate
from any definition of “vehicle”. States that have such prohibitions on riding
a horse while intoxicated include North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan, Florida, Oregon, and California,
among others. Colorado is another state that very specifically
prohibits riding horses while intoxicated, but in this case considers this a simple traffic
violation rather than the more serious consequences that can from from being charged with driving
under the influence. That said, there are several states, such
as Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas, Washington state, New Jersey, and Montana, that have
no such rules and it is entirely possible to ride a horse home from the bar after getting
rather tipsy and not technically be able to be cited for “driving” under the influence. Interestingly, in the case of New Jersey,
in 1898 there was a law on the books prohibiting “driving of any horse, mule or other beast
of burden while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.” This law, however, was repealed in 1971. All this said, it should be noted that even
in these regions there are several other laws a zealous officer could still get you for,
including even animal cruelty as you are drunkenly controlling a horse on a public roadway, potentially
with cars around, and thus can be deemed to be placing the animal at significant risk. Other potential laws you could be considered
to be violating include “public endangerment due to reckless behavior”, child endangerment
(if you’re riding the horse near children or have one along on the horse), etc. More likely you might be cited for public
intoxication, such as happened on January 13, 2011 to two Texas men, Samuel Olivo and
Jose Rios. Initially in this case, the men were charged
with driving while intoxicated when they were seen riding a horse and a mule respectively
through Austin. At the same time, they were also drunkenly
attempting to get people to take pictures with them. Not just a little trousered, in the case of
Jose, he was so drunk the officer attempting to administer the breathalyzer test found
him incapable of completing the test. Jose later needed to be hospitalized for alcohol
poisoning. That said, despite the extreme level of intoxication,
as alluded to, Texas law is one of those that stresses “motorized vehicle” rather than the
more general “vehicle”. Thus, while the two men were initially charged
for driving while intoxicated, this was later dropped and switched to a charge of public
intoxication. In yet another case of this, one Jake Williams
of Louisiana hadn’t initially planned to ride his horse, Sugar, home, simply having him
in his horse trailer at the time. But after getting properly medicated at a
bar, he decided he was too intoxicated to drive home, so got his horse out of the trailer
and attempted to ride it home, later stating his reasoning as, “When you get a little too
much to drink, why not ride a horse? It’s safer that way. The horse knows the way home.” Unfortunately for him, someone saw him leave
the bar and mount the horse and called the cops on him. When the police found he was indeed quite
drunk, they couldn’t charge him under drunk driving laws of Louisiana, so simply cited
him for public intoxication. But to sum up, it is technically illegal in
many regions of the world to ride a horse while drunk. However, when a random citizen isn’t calling
the cops on you and if you don’t appear to be doing anything unsafe or harassing anyone,
even in regions where you can be charged with drunk driving if riding a horse while intoxicated,
it would seem from the countless accounts we found of people doing this without any
consequence to themselves, particularly in the UK, that it’s unlikely an officer would
do anything. After all, the police aren’t exactly typically
on the lookout for people riding horses while drunk. So you’d need to make it pretty obvious to
them in most cases or be doing something else illegal to draw their attention. Bonus Fact:
• The point at which a person is considered to have their faculties impaired enough to
make driving unsafe varies considerably from place to place, with some nations even going
so far as a 0% threshold. Interestingly, as with pretty much all zero
tolerance policies, this is rather absurd as eating a large quantity of bready foods
will in many people result in a negligible, but nonetheless measurably amount of alcohol
in the bloodstream thanks to certain yeasts in your gut producing some alcohol as they
help process what you’ve just consumed. In extreme and, very rare cases, this can
even result in fully fledged Auto-Brewery Syndrome which sees the person in question
getting perpetually drunk after eating many foods until the offending yeast is mostly
eliminated and normal gut microbial colonies and densities can be reestablished. The point being, if you happen to live in
a nation that has a 0% threshold, it’s technically illegal to Olive Garden and drive.

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  2. I didn't watch this video but personally I don't think ide ride a horse if it has been drinking. It must cost a fortune to get them even buzzed, they weigh like 1000 pounds, is this really a problem?

  3. IN AMERICA THERE IS A LAW AGAINST EVERYTHING. ……. AND IF IT ISN'T AGAINST A LAW THE COPS WILL JUST MAKE UP A LAW TO COVER ANY SITUATION.

  4. I've ridden my bike home from the bar drunk. In the law here, bicycles aren't vehicles unless they have some kind of motor in them but you can get a ticket for cycling under the influence (CUI), which is basically misdemeanor drunk in public. I've never had a single problem with the law though. I have broken my axle three different times and come away pretty scraped up so physics is much better at enforcing the law than the police are sometimes. It could be worse if I had been involved in an accident with a car, but I always wait until the drunk people try to drive home before starting out on my bike.

  5. In Germany it is definitely illegal because the law is formulated "participating in road traffic" avoiding the whole "vehicle" problem.

  6. I don't get why you bring "The Olive Garden" into the picture here. I've enjoyed this channel for about a year now, but I've worked at the Olive Garden for 8 years, and I am VERY loyal to Darden corp. as they have gone above and beyond for my family when we were hurting.

    Please define what you mean when referencing this company.

    Sincerely,

    Robert T. Folsom

  7. I once walked out of a country pub and walked over to my bike (I'd had 1 beer it's ok guys). Tied up next to my bike was a couple of horses, and a couple of drunk cowboys were out there getting ready to ride off. "I've got 130 of those under that seat" I said to them smugly, pointing at my bike. "Bet it doesn't know the way home" was the reply as they galloped off. Yeah. I lost that exchange.

  8. A guy in my country had his mule apprehended when he was "driving" it under influence .
    It was moved into the confiscated cars section from the police, he had to go there pay the fine to get it back once he was sobered up
    This is kind of ridiculous but it did happen
    EDIT: to add further clarification, i am from Portugal

  9. I am responsible for the law against riding horses on the sidewalks in my hometown. I rode my horses everywhere. I rode them to pay the bills, I rode them to the bank, I rode them to the stores, I rode them on the school grounds after school was out for the day or the summer, I rode them absolutely everywhere. A cop tried to give me a ticket once, but it wasn't against the law, not even an infraction. The city changed the law and I changed my riding routes. My hometown was very small then, just 3,000 residents and very few adult pedestrians. If someone were headed toward us, I always directed my horses to the street so as not to scare anyone. I was very considerate about where I "parked" my horses so that people could go about their business without having to walk past my horses. The law was just a way for mean-spirited fussbudgets to criminalize the innocuous behavior of a young teenage girl– to punish her for having fun. I never caused any real problems.

  10. on a related note, in my town it is illegal to ride a bicycle while intoxicated, however the law was written very specifically, such that a unicycle is not covered. My friend rides her unicycle home from the bar frequently.

    Granted, if you can ride a unicycle, how drunk are you, really?

  11. Here in South Louisiana, every Mardi Gras I see hundreds of drunk people on horses, some of them off-duty cops.

  12. Why would you even want to to use a horse anyways they are useless, smelly worthless tools that have no use anymore since we have superior forms of transportation likes cars and planes. Yeah I hate horses and I am proud of it.

  13. This will never happen to me I don't have one, nor do I know how to ride one. How much does a cheap horse cost in the US anyway?

  14. I'm a news reporter in rural Pennsylvania and I can relate that the Amish get DUI charges on a pretty regular basis.

  15. South Africa instituted a zero tolerance policy some time ago. In 2019 a video circulated around Easter, of a police officer taking a breathalyzer test before and after eating a single hot cross bun. That one bun was enough for him to blow positive

  16. Bam, instant thumbs down.
    Try putting the sponser at the end. I spend real money too avoid pre video advertisements . Love your guys format and you have mostly thumbs up from me but I don't have to watch the video before a thumbs down when I get a commercial right off the bat

  17. I can tell you those Amish are ALWAYS drunk in those buggies. You have to be sloshed to have the stones to drive a horse and buggy on the 55 mph highways around the Amish townships.

  18. How the hell can you get a DUI on a horse if you can't stay upright, on the horse, in the first place? 😀

  19. Hehe you can get done for drunk driving in the UK for pushing a wheelchair and being over the limit. The person in the wheelchair cannot, as they count as a pedestrian. 😛

  20. Having been to multiple rodeo's in my day I have seen a lot of law breakers.  But all had a good time.

  21. Back in 1998, I went to Ireland, my first night, I rode a Mountain Bike to the nearest Public House and I was stopped from riding it back drunk, and was told if the Garda saw Me, I would be seen as being Drunk In Charge…

    So I had to pretty much crawl 2 miles from the Bar back to my digs

  22. I think YouTube is drunk… justgot a notification saying just uploaded this video but I watched it 5 days ago wtf

  23. Before the video starts. Someone in somerset got arrested adn tried for being in charge of a horse drunk and he had to pay a fine of 5 pounds!

  24. So you can't legally ride a horse home while intoxicated, but can you legally ride an intoxicated horse home?

  25. I must admit I'm guilty of this but taking your horse out for a midnight stroll down to the river during a full moon is quite liberating and fun. I've actually rode mine to a drive thru to buy a drink but that's when laws weren't as strict. Our laws are so lax here you can still order a to go drink as long as there's a piece of tape on top where the straw goes. Just passed open container laws a couple years ago.

  26. In Australia the law states that riding a horse under the influence is illegal, and drink driving fines apply.

  27. The punishment for riding while intoxicated should be less severe than it is for driving while intoxicated, it's far less dangerous than driving drunk.

  28. In Canada, it is illegal. My father-in-law was arrested for being drunk in public while he was on a horse. Mainly because he had the vodka bottle in his saddle.

  29. In Wisconsin, we have a huge problem with repeat DUI instances. I could see people trying to use a horse as a way to get around it. 😩

  30. about wheels on the road…when I am operating my scooter – the kind for handicapped persons – altho it has four wheels and is motorized I am classed as a pedestrian and NOT allowed on any road. I must stay on the sidewalk and obey pedestrian rules…but, now I wonder, could I be charged with a DUI?

  31. The horse was the driver in that first situation hahaha
    "Officer I swear I wasn't driving, he was"
    <Horse shakes his head at the officer>
    "Hands behind your back"

  32. Ride a horse drunk? You can ride a horse dead, seriously if someone gets u in place a trained horse will take u to someone who can help, or take care of your body.

  33. Depends on the state. A horse isn't drunk but I am. So how would that make sense. It would be like a car that drives itself but I'm drunk. Would it be illegal for a car to drive me then?

  34. It just goes to show, if the police want to hassle you, they'll find a law that you've broken.
    Also, this episode was written by Karl Smallwood and Dave 'N' Whiskey! 😉

  35. I'm gonna be honest, the thing I was most looking forward to in this vid was why it's illegal to drive after eating in Olive Garden in certain places…

  36. The real question is if you get your horse drunk can you will your horse be ticketed. He’s the real driver.

  37. My understanding is that you can drive a canal boat on the UK inland canal system and be over the limit and not prosecuted. Is this true?

  38. RE: The Newcastle example. If the ‘driver’ was that fugged, I feel incredibly sorry for the poor horse 🐎

  39. Thank you for the video. Loved the Cat ridding a Horse 🐴 while wearing a Cowboy hat. ROFL 🤣

    I think the lesson to take from this is DON’T DRINK AND HORSE 🐎

  40. Bonus question for you, Simon. How on Earth were you able to get through that entire video without laughing? (the legal intricacies aside)

  41. I know of a case in my town In Alaska where a person in a power chair was charged with a dui
    Because of deliberately running over people

  42. In Florida you will be arrested for public intoxication, and your horse will be taken by a rescue group who will require a fee to reclaim (unless the horse is found to be malnourished or otherwise mistreated) then further investigation and possible legal issues may arise.

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