Recent Unusual DUI Cases
November 1, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI Social Share
Every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you are responsible for following the rules of the road. While states can have differences in their traffic laws, operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol remains illegal across all 50 states.
We will cover two recent DUI cases around the U.S. and provide information on DUIs in the state of Florida.
Horseback DUI in California
Police officers in Southern California had an unusual stop when they had to arrest an individual who was “riding under the influence” on the back of a horse. The odd pursuit was later posted on the Whittier Police Department’s Instagram page.
According to the post on Instagram, the Wittier Police stated the following:
“An intoxicated person on a horse, galloping through traffic…refusing to pull the horse over…that was our afternoon. A police pursuit after a DUI on a horse! At the conclusion, a suspect was taken into custody and the horse was brought to our station, where it received lots of love from our team.”
The Vehicle Code in California states that any person who rides an animal on a dedicated roadway is “subjected to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle…except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.”
If a person is on the road, they must abide by the rules of the road. That means someone who is riding a horse and is impaired by alcohol would have the same penalties as a person driving their car impaired by alcohol. The blood alcohol limit remains 0.08% whether the driver is behind a wheel or on a saddle.
The Whittier Police reported that the unidentified suspect was arrested and charged with a DUI.
Daughter Calls Michigan Cops for Mom’s Drunk Driving
Police officers in Michigan received an unlikely call on October 17th, 2022. The caller was a 17-year-old girl who was reporting her mother for driving drunk with her and her 15-year-old brother in the vehicle.
The call began with the daughter saying, “Hi, my mom is drunk driving crazy as (expletive) with me and my little brother in the car. We don’t feel safe at all. Like, we need somebody to come find us.”
The dispatchers stayed on the phone with the teen for roughly 10 minutes while she described their moving location. Officer Thomas Anton of Blissfield Police was finally able to intercept the vehicle.
“The vehicle was actually going over the lines and actually almost hit another car next to it, and it came over the double yellow lines twice and almost caused a head-on collision twice,” Officer Anton noted.
The officer arrested the 45-year-old mom and took her to the Lenawee County Jail. She blew twice the legal limit of the state’s BAC. “They were quite scared when mom was driving down the road drunk,” Officer Anton recounted. “They were scared for mom’s safety and theirs, so they called 911 to make sure that, in fact, the daughter said that they saved mom’s life.”
One of the mother’s friends drove the two children to their grandmother’s house where they were released into her custody. The mother is expected to face a misdemeanor charge of Operating While Impaired.
DUI in Florida
Florida Statute section 316.193 defines driving under the influence (DUI) as when an individual is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state while having a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
Most people assume that they can only be charged with a DUI if they are driving an actual car or vehicle. The reality is that a person can be charged with a DUI in Florida even if you are not in a car. A person riding on an animal—such as a horse—can be arrested and charged with a DUI if the person riding the horse has a BAC of 0.08 or above, and if they are riding the horse on a well-traveled path or roadway.
The penalties for a DUI can range in severity depending on the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system, and whether or not they are a first-time offender. For a first time DUI, the defendant could have to pay up to $1,000 in fines and serve up to six months in jail. If the defendant has been arrested for a fourth or subsequent DUI offense, that and every subsequent DUI is considered a Felony DUI, which can result in a fine of $1,000 or more and up to five years in jail.
To read more about the specifics of DUI penalties, find our informative page here.
What is a “Vehicle” in Florida?
Under Florida Statute Section 316.003(106), the legislature defines a “vehicle” as “[e]very device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except personal delivery devices, mobile carriers, and devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”
Because of the language that the legislation used, the word vehicle encompasses any device that a person or property can use to move on a highway. While most people would immediately think of a highway as a road where cars travel, the law defines it as a street or road that is open to the public for vehicular traffic, or a private road or street where a county or municipality exercises some type of traffic control influence.
This means that in Florida, a person who is traveling down a public road in a horse while intoxicated could very well face criminal charges for a DUI violation.
Finding a DUI Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
While the two above stories took place in different states, they are still important because they help to highlight just how DUI cases can vary. As the above story helps to show, a person does not necessarily have to be driving a car to get arrested and charged with a DUI. If you or a loved one have been accused of driving under the influence, prioritize seeking out the help of a skilled DUI defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients across the state for DUIs, along with other criminal charges. Contact us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key