When New York State passed the nation’s first DUI law back in 1910, automobile owners weren’t the only drivers that authorities were targeting. At that time, plenty of horse-drawn vehicles still traveled the roads, and their drivers could cause a fair amount of damage to people and property if they were under the influence while holding the reins. Fast forward more than 100 years, and police officers rarely (if ever) arrest someone for a DUI in Los Angeles when they’re riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn carriage. But it can and does happen elsewhere.
In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, police arrested Robert Miller, 18, on suspicion of DUI. Miller, a member of the Amish church, was driving one of the plain black buggies that the Amish favor.
According to TV Station WJAC, police in Canoe Township became suspicious on the night of July 8th when they saw two young men riding on the roof of a buggy. When officers pulled them over, they found Miller and his four passengers—all under age 21—were under the influence of alcohol and they had alcohol in the buggy. Police charged the passengers with underage drinking.
What if Miller had been riding a horse instead of driving a buggy? Professor Stephen Bainbridge, who writes an online blog about law, religion, politics and culture, says charging someone in California with a DUI for riding a horse poses some interesting legal questions. He notes that California Vehicle Code 23152 prohibits anyone from driving a vehicle while under the influence, but that section 415 of that code defines a vehicle as a device that moves someone along a highway. Is a horse a device? Most courts have ruled that devices are inanimate objects, so a horse would not qualify. So it appears that Miller would have been better off unhitching the horse and riding home if he was planning on drinking.
How should you respond to your recent and disarming charges? Call a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer (and ex-prosecutor) with nearly two decades of relevant legal experience.