Monthly Archives: September 2012

Don’t do drugs and drive…

Abby Elsner

Especially not at the same time.  This young lady was shooting up heroin while she was driving down the street.  She didn’t even stop when she pulled up next to a cop, who promptly turned her over.  You can get a DUI for driving under the influence of controlled substances, but that’s not as bad as the felony for DOING the substances (and/or possessing them).  She’s clearly got a substance abuse problem, and hopefully this will be a wakeup call to get her help.

DUI on a horse: Update

I got some feedback from friend of the firm Christopher Brown, now a Defense attorney in SWFL.  While he was an intern with the prosecutor’s office several years back, a DUI on a horse landed on his desk.  That means some hotshot cop arrested some guy on a horse and threw him in jail for a night.  Probably took his driver’s license, too.  Chris did the right thing and dropped the case, but I now have my confirmation that there are cops who will arrest somebody for it, regardless of the law.

Chris reports his reasoning was that a drunk driver points a car into traffic and potentially trouble.  But a horseback rider, if he points that horse at traffic, that horse just ain’t gonna go.  I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point.  Since that case didn’t go anywhere, I am still unaware of any published case law on the issue.  I don’t know if there’s any law against riding a drunk horse…

Man sitting on a dead horse

Update: More from Chris: “Now that my memory has been refreshed I think I called the cop to tell him I was dumping it and he was okay with it. He said the guy was so drunk he was just afraid he would fall of the horse into the street or somehow cause and accident and he just wanted to take him off the street that night. Cops need more training on Marchment… they are always finding reasons to arrest drunks for their own protection.”  The cop’s heart may have been in the right place, but not on the right side of the law!

Can you get a DUI on a horse in Florida?

Charles Cowart mug shots

Yesterday I posted a story about Charles Cowart, who was riding around in the middle of a major highway on his horse absolutely schmammered.  That’s a legal term.  He proceeded to lead police on a 30 minute chase, including down railroad tracks, which caused the police to stop a train.  He ultimately fell off his high horse, tried to run, and was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes, including felonies for fleeing and animal cruelty.  It does not appear that he was charged with DUI.

In Florida, you can be arrested for operating any “vehicle” if your normal faculties are impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance.  It does not have to be a motor vehicle: I personally prosecuted a guy who was arrested for DUI on a tricycle back when I worked at the state.  And this guy was just recently arrested for DUI on a lawnmower. A vehicle is defined as a “Device” that can be used or be drawn to transport persons (or property) on a highway.  Rail cars are specifically excluded.  This definition appears to me to exclude horses: it would be a stretch to call a horse a “device”.  I did some cursory research and could not find any published cases where an individual had been charged with DUI on a horse.  Attorney Gary Potts has addressed this on his blog, and come to a similar conclusion, though as he points out, a horse-drawn cart would probably qualify.

Keep in mind, I haven’t found anything that says they can’t try to charge you with DUI on a horse.  The last thing you want to do is test it, and run into the cop who thinks a horse is a vehicle.  In Florida, almost anything else is a vehicle, including bikes, tricycles, lawnmowers, airplanes, golf carts, roller blades and even a segway.  Anything that rolls, like a motorized bar stool or cooler, and even the occasional couch have generated DUIs.  I am reminded of the scene in “Mystery, Alaska” where the guy got arrested on a Zamboni:  life imitates art.

Amanda Knox update: Raffaele Solecito releases book, talks

Rafaelle Sollecito

I watched the trial of Amanda Knox, “Foxy Knoxy” as she was dubbed by the tabloids closely, and posted on it frequently on my Facebook page back before I started Crimcourts.  Mr. Solecito was the man she had a relationship with prior to her roommate being murdered.  The two were both charged and railroaded through a trial, and spent about 4 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out.  He has written a book, out now, and recently sat down with 48 Hours to talk about his experience. 

Also, a Seattle writer recently published a book on the case.

Squirrel and horse related DUI news

Dewey the squirrel- in action

Of course, in Florida:  Dewey the squirrel runs rampant in Fleming Island:  (get it, ‘Dewey’?)

This was a top story on, and I had to share.  Warren Michael was driving with his new pet squirrel, and says it got in his shirt and caused the erratic driving that led to a DUI arrest.  Also, he’d had a few drinks.  Riding with a squirrel = not illegal, but driving with your “normal faculties impaired” is illegal, regardless of whether you’ve got ants in your pants.  I suspect the squirrel was no longer in his shirt when he was asked to perform the field sobriety exercises.

Reminder, if you are ever charged with a crime… ANY crime, and the press comes calling, call your attorney before you talk to them!

Now, can one of my journalist friends explain to me why the reporter included the ‘action shot’ of him walking up to the house to do the interview?

Charles Cowart mug shot

Also in Florida: Man arrested for after drunken horse-riding adventure:

Not far from Dewey’s antics, a man in Bunnel, Florida was arrested after a little rampage while drunkenly riding around on a horse.  Charles Cowart has been charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, aggravated fleeing, and animal cruelty.  He was riding around in major traffic on US 1: apparently he even caused a train to stop.  As far as I can tell, no DUI charges.  I don’t think a DUI can be charged on a horse in Florida, though that’s not as bad as animal cruelty, a felony.  This happened in the middle of the afternoon.  Spectacular.

Chad Johnson takes plea

Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson entered a no contest plea in court.  He was sentenced to serve a year of probation, and attend counseling.  The counseling program he has entered is a “Batterer’s Intervention” program required by Florida on all cases involving domestic violence.  It’s a pretty standard sentence for someone with little to no criminal history.  If he completes his counseling and pays all his fines and fees, the judge may let him off before the year is up.  Again, the charge is a misdemeanor, not a felony, though if he were to find an NFL job, he may still face sanctions from the NFL (which would be pretty harsh, since the Dolphins already cut him because of the incident.)  He is taking responsibility with the legal situation, and receiving what the state believes to be sufficient punishment under the circumstances.

Sarah Jones in court today: Update

Sarah Jones is in court today, trying to suppress the text messages the prosecutors want to introduce against her.  The testimony has been compelling: first, her attorney challenged the judge who signed the warrant.  Deters put Judge Easterling on the stand and questioned him.  That was followed by the case agent, the detective, who testified that nearly 40 false statements were included in the case against Jones and her mother.

No word yet on the result of the hearing.

Update: According to WCPO, the Judge will issue an order on the suppression motion in the next few weeks.  That doesn’t indicate much, just the the judge reserved ruling, meaning she’s going to think about it and probably put out a written order with her ruling.