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.

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3 responses to “Can you get a DUI on a horse in Florida?

  1. “I personally prosecuted a guy who was arrested for DUI on a tricycle back when I worked at the state.”

    Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Good grief.

    • Haha, well played! I stand by that- it was the guy’s third DUI. He pulled into traffic on a highway and caused an accident. I let him plead to a reduced misdemeanor instead of the felony he was initially charged with- so I did cut him a break!

  2. Pingback: Weird DUI : Santa Gets a DUI on his Sleigh | crimcourts : A Criminal Law Blog

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