Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?

download-4If you guess drunk driving, you are not even half way there . . .

Donna Byrne, 53, was driving under the influence but she driving a vehicle with only one horse power because it was a horse.

Byrne was stopped as she weaved her way down a road on her horse.  She was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .161. That is twice the .08 limit in Florida.  She is charged with drunk driving, animal neglect for endangering, and failing to provide proper protection for the horse.

In case you are wondering about the “vehicle” confusion, it is not a problem in Florida.

Section 316.003 extends the definition of “vehicle” to “Every device, in, upon or
by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway,
excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

This has been extended to even bicycles.  State v. Howard, 510 So.2d 612 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1987).

Kudos: Professor Roger E. Schechter

15 thoughts on “Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?

  1. The silliness of laws to try to re-define what a “vehicle” is.

    The word needs to be defined correctly, not by some committee of failing law-school students. It should properly be limited to a mode of transportation that operates by mechanical means.

    By the unreasonableness of the state’s definition, a person could qualify as a vehicle because of their action of walking.

  2. Ah, yes, the drunken rider. I never saw one until I started riding trail, because who would get smashed and show up at the barn to jump or hack in the arena?

    Sometimes people go on wine tasting rides, or moonlit rides, or ride to BBQs. Trail riding is conducive to being social if you want to be. However, it is bad sportsmanship and plain stupid to get really drunk and ride. If you pass out and fall off, you won’t be able to break your fall with your hands, and could break your neck. Or, you could get hung up and wish you’d died quicker. Bad things can happen to horses who lose their riders and gallop home, especially if there is a road and traffic in between. Car or truck accidents that involve horses and riders are gruesome. Any vehicle that hits a horse, cow, buffalo, or moose at speed is a serious accident. The occupants of the car, rider, and horse often get badly hurt or even die. A horse hit by a car often suffers badly before he’s put down on the side of the road. I have known of some horrible accidents from people I’ve known, from horses breaking a fence and getting into a road to trailer accidents.

    Horses are so vulnerable. They have the ability to kick or bite us to death, but they very rarely show any aggression, even when abused. They usually just try to get away. Most horses weigh around 1,000 pounds, but their pasterns are slender like a man’s wrist. It’s hard for a horse to survive a broken leg like a dog can.

    I have heard of people getting really drunk and riding, or even driving a team of horses through traffic. It’s more common on trail rides, where the only necks they risk are their own, and their horse’s. It’s a selfish, thoughtless risk that does not take care of their animals. Whether you’re a farmer, a rancher, a trail rider, or jumper, sportsmanship and responsibility for your animals are the same. In fact, if a cowboy killed his vital roping horse because he got drunk and rode him in front of a car, or if he killed people in that car, he’d get severe blowback from other horsemen and the community. There’s a difference between having a cool beer or two while you rest your horse and getting smashed.

    Obviously, I can’t stand it when people do not care properly for their animals. But I also agree with Darren in that it is inappropriate to apply a drunk driving law to a rider. A horse is not a vehicle. Plus he knows his way home and can carry a merely tipsy rider back, who would be over the limit to drive a car. I also believe that a truly drunk rider staggering around the roadway is a danger to the motorists and to his own animal.

    Perhaps the lawyers here can chime in. I thought that someone would be criminally and civilly liable if, through negligence, their horse caused an accident. Perhaps it would only be civil? This might be one of those occurrences that bother me, but there really is no need for criminal law to intervene unless there is an accident.

    • I remember one time, years ago, I was riding my TB jumper by the one short stretch of busy road necessary to get the trail head. Riding him trail was great for desensitizing him, having fun together, and getting out of the arena. It shouldn’t be all work and no play. I’d worked so hard on getting him used to being far away from home and around cars, nice and relaxed and safe.

      I did not, however, train him for the time that a car full of teenagers roared up right next to us, skidded to a stop, and laid on the horn. Nope. That would be a hole in his training, that I discovered when I was caught not paying attention, and landed hard on the pavement after he went into a fully vertical rear. Then he spun in terror and galloped home in a blind panic. It was one of the worst walks back ever, with their laughter ringing in my ears. I was scared to death that I would find him mutilated and people hurt in a car accident, or a bowed tendon from galloping all that way on hard concrete.

      Luckily, he was fine, and was getting made over by the mares when I finally got back.

      Another time, a speeding landscaping truck on a country road hit my stirrup with their sideview mirror, and took a chunk of the metal out. If my ex racehorse, a different horse than my other near miss, had merely turned his head to look, it would have taken his head off. Luckily, the truck hit me from behind, so my foot flew up over my head like a cancan dancer. All my joints got flung in the right direction, so nothing broke.

      I really hate mixing horses and cars.

    • Although I’m not a lawyer, I do know a bit about California Vehicle Code. Here’s the laws that make riding a horse under the influence against the law. First, you have to understand the definitions for “vehicle” and “driver” then the laws that apply to horses and finally the DUI law in California.

      670 VC – A “vehicle” is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. (since human can be moved or drawn upon a highway by a horse, the horse is a vehicle under CA law)

      305 VC – A “driver” is a person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle.  The term “driver” does not include the tillerman or other person who, in an auxiliary capacity, assists the driver in the steering or operation of any articulated firefighting apparatus. (Since a person uses the reins to have “actual physical control of horse which has already been established as a vehicle, the rider is a driver, whether they are mounted on the horse or driving a carriage.)

      21050 VC – Every person riding or driving an animal upon a highway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division (Division 11) and Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. (Division 11 in the California Vehicle Code are the Rules of the Road. Division 10 is about accidents and accident reports) As you can see, riders and drivers of horses have to obey stop signs, ride on the right side, use the left turn lane, etc because that is CA law. The rules against driving under the influence are found in Division 11.

      23152 (a) VC – It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. (So, if a horse is a vehicle and a rider is driving and under the influence, you have the elements of DUI and hence a valid arrest. There should be no need to wait for a collision to make an arrest anymore than an officer should wait for a car driver to crash before making an arrest. An interesting note…DUI in CA is illegal ANYWHERE, not just on a highway. So a drunk trail rider would be committing the offense. Catching them is another story. Also, if the rider’s hands are not on the reins, then then are not in actual physical control of the horse, then they are not a driver by definition and are no in violation of the law. Unlike a car, the horse might be smart and calm enough to take a rider home!

  3. She’ll be exonerated until “driving while stupid” becomes a crime. And when it does, the half of the population of below average intelligence will be guilty.

  4. I am not familiar with Florida criminal procedure, but I cannot see where a judge would not summarily dismiss this case come her first court appearance on Monday or so. An animal is not a device. Perhaps a horse-drawn carriage could be considered a vehicle and not the horse itself. Riding the horse? Well, unless Florida considers a saddle to be a vehicle device maybe that would be so via a great stretch of the law and the imagination.

    375.312 Definitions.—As used in this act, unless the context requires otherwise:
    (1) “Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle, including every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn, except devices moved by human or animal power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

    This statute reads from the “Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Lands” chapter of the Florida Statutes. While this definition is encapsulated into the recreation code, somehow I would expect it could be referenced as evidence of the ordinary meaning of vehicle or device being not inclusive of horseback riding.

    It is wild stretches of the law enforced that inevitably lead to bad case law that disfavors the state and clogs up the appellate courts–especially when egos of prosecutors become involved or through covering one’s backside. Nobody wins in this case.

    if this is such a problem the legislature should specifically enact legislation against riding animals on public highways while under the influence. I doubt that it is. It would however seem like reading law from the 19th century.

  5. Ponyboy

    By Richard Betts

    Don’t worry for me
    Well I’m all right
    Lord knows I”m having,
    A natural good time,
    Pocket full of money
    Gonna boogie all night;
    There ain’t nobody tell me that’s crime

    When morning comes and it’s time to go
    Pony boy carry me home
    Pony boy carry me home.

    All right mama,
    Let me see you do that thing now

    Band is jumping and so am I.
    I’m just groovin’, can’t stop movin’,
    My ole man’s got that ole eagle eye
    But he is just waitin’, we’re celebratin’

    I feel a change coming on
    Come on, mama!
    Here it comes now
    Papa’s with you now;

    Look out the door,
    There beside that tree.
    Well, that’s my pony, looking after me,
    Front feet doing the shuffle
    Back feet, too.
    Blow them good old Georgia blues.

  6. This is one of those things where she might win on appeal to the Federal level. I don’t see the animal cruelty crime though. That will be a tougher one to prove. And if the horse is weaving, is it the horse or her who is drunk? Is she drunk horse riding? or drunk horse driving? Tell her to ask for a jury of farmers and ranchers. She will never spend a day in jail. 😉

  7. Turley, you should have called your buddy Gorsuch. He would have reminded you that the Webster’s on line definition of a “device” does not include animals. She’s probably not guilty of drunk driving by reason of the insanity of using a horse.

    Are you going to argue that she should be guilty of cruelty to animals because she forced her horse to listen to Nina Totenburg on NPR?

    • Oliver Clozoff, I’m guessing that Turley would argue that it would not have been hard for Donna Byrne to imagine her horse’s response to a male legal analyst saying that Nina Totenburg is drunker and more cruel than Donna Byrne.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s