Can You Get a DUI on a Horse?

can you get a dui on a horse

Usually, DUI laws are established keeping motor vehicles in mind. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be charged with a DUI while riding a horse.

If horses are common in your state, there may be a law to govern the behavior of people using these animals for transportation.

So, can you get a DUI while riding a horse? The answer may be yes or no, depending on your state’s prevailing law. To your surprise, riding a horse after a beer or two can get you into serious trouble in some areas.

What does DUI mean?

DUI refers to driving under the influence. DUI, as a charge, can mean the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It refers to driving a vehicle when the blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by law, which is said to be a level at which a person cannot drive safely. State laws vary as to what this level is. 

Driving on private property, such as a parking lot, is not a defense, but sitting in a non-moving vehicle without the ignition on probably is (sometimes leading to charges of “intoxicated and surrounding vehicle”). It is a misdemeanor and is referred to as a DUI, driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence of alcohol, or a “double.”

DUI for operating a non-motor vehicle

In America, driving a motor vehicle under drugs or alcohol is illegal. But in some states, operating a non-motorized vehicle while intoxicated or impaired is illegal.

These states have laws that no person under the influence of intoxicating beverages or any substance that may impair the ability to drive shall operate a vehicle other than a motor vehicle anywhere in that state.

So, is a horse-drawn carriage a non-motorized vehicle? Yes.

A DUI can be given to you for operating any of the below non-motorized vehicles:

  • Horses
  • Horse carriages
  • Bicycles
  • Skateboards
  • Electric cars, or
  •  Hot air balloons

Can you get a DUI charge during a horse ride?

In many parts of America, horseback riding is still a popular mode of transportation. As the penalties for getting a DUI increase, it’s no surprise that people are looking for alternative ways to get home from the bar. 

If you live in an area with many horses, it’s natural to wonder if you can get a DUI riding a horse home. So, the answer to this may be yes or no, but probably it’s no.

Can I get charged while riding a horse drunk?

Yes, you can get pulled over whenever a police officer feels you are doing something wrong. You may not need a license, but the officer may ask you some questions and give you a field sobriety test if you are visually intoxicated or if the officer feels so after hearing your answers to questions.

However, many police officers do not know every law, and unless they see drunk people riding regularly, they are unlikely to know about the correct charge and charge them with DUI. 

Some law enforcement officers who know the law may also charge you with DUI to discourage others from trying to ride while intoxicated. However, in most states, DUI laws only apply to motor vehicles, and the charge gets dropped or changed to something more appropriate in court.

What is BAC? How is DUI calculated?

Blood alcohol concentration, as the name suggests, measures the concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream. For example, if someone has a BAC of 0.08%, it implies that 8 out of every 10,000 molecules in the bloodstream are alcohol. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, it can impact your disability.

The more you drink, the more your blood alcohol concentration increases. Moreover, the number of drinks consumed is not the only factor that affects reading. The percentage also varies depending on your physical size, medications you may be taking, and the amount of time you’ve been drinking.

If your BAC is more than 0.08 percent, you can get charged for driving under the influence (DUI). The BAC test measures the alcohol in your blood. A BAC of 0.08 shows that in every 100 ml of blood, there are 0.08 grams of alcohol.

What is a high BAC for a DUI for riding a horse?

Most states now impose additional penalties on drivers having dangerously high BACs (0.15% or higher carries more severe penalties). Individuals with a high BAC are more likely to be involved in fatal traffic accidents.

An impairment associated with a BAC of 0.15% or greater is significant:

  • BAC 0.15%: Difficulty walking and talking due to severe loss of muscle control affecting balance and coordination. Judgment and decision-making are unreliable.
  • BAC 0.16-0.20%: Confusion and uncontrolled, sloppy movements. He may feel dizzy or nauseous.
  • BAC 0.21-0.30%: The person can seem to feel no pain, repeatedly falls, and needs help getting up. In such circumstances, power outages and vomiting are common.
  • BAC 0.31-0.40%: Approaching lethal blood alcohol concentration. He may lose consciousness. Coma and death may follow.

What to do when charged for riding a horse drunk?

If you have a DUI charge for riding a horse while intoxicated, you will likely need an attorney to help you with your case.

DUI is a serious charge for which an attorney would be in a better position to advise you on how to defend yourself. If your blood alcohol content is nowhere near the legal limit, you may be able to enter a plea deal and reduce your charge to a lesser offense.

It is common for the defense attorney to argue that you were not ‘driving’ the horse in such cases. The horse knew the way and took you there, meaning you were merely a drunken passenger.

Common defenses for DUI charge for riding a horse drunk

The primary defense to put into context here is that you were not the driver, and the defense counsel may argue for another charge lower than DUI.

Numerous potential police errors may occur in DUI cases, which can contribute to reducing your charges. After reviewing the facts of your DUI case, attorneys will focus on helping you seek a dismissal or reduction by building a safety case that challenges any evidence the police have obtained against you.

Some of the primary defenses that lawyers can present are:

Illegal stop

The officer can not stop a driver unless he has a reasonable and understandable basis to believe that a breach of traffic law or any other law has occurred. Also, he cannot get detained under arrest before the violation of the law has occurred.

Problem with breathalyzer or blood test

Breath tests, commonly referred to as breathalyzers, determine the particles of alcohol in breath in your lungs and provide a measurement of your blood alcohol level. This indirect measurement of your blood alcohol level can lead to inaccurate readings because a single test is not enough to determine the alcohol levels in your system.

Other Defenses

Other defenses you may want to consider include:

  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the field sobriety test has not been done accurately.

But, these defenses will prevail in court is not guaranteed. But lawyers reportedly use such to get the district attorney to agree to a plea deal.


So, can you a DUI on a horse may depend on the the law in your state. Most states do not consider horse-drawn vehicles. In these jurisdictions, you won’t get a DUI on horseback, but you can get charged for other offenses.

But some states have laws where you can get charged for DUI for riding a horse drunk.

These laws vary from state to state. Depending on your level of intoxication, you may be charged with nuisance or endangering the lives of others.

You can contact an attorney to know about the defenses, and he may represent your case in court.


Can you drink on a horse?

Riding horses during intoxication is not against the law in most states. However, in most states, you can get serious if you are drunk and riding a horse.

What to do if a police officer charges you with DUI?

Many police officers do not know every law, and unless they see drunk people riding regularly, they are unlikely to be aware of the correct charge and usually charge them with DUI.So this can be used as a defense in court.

Does one need a license to ride a horse?

No, they may not need a license. But, the officer may ask you some questions and possibly give you a field sobriety test if you are visually intoxicated or if the officer feels that you are intoxicated after hearing your answers to questions.

Is there a difference between DUI and DWI?

Yes, DUI and DWI have slightly different meanings: DUI refers to driving under the influence, while DWI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol. For a DUI, the charge could mean that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.