Man charged with DUI for drunk driving his horse on a freeway

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But officer, the horse hasn’t had a drop!


MOM: “But we live in an apartment complex, Luis doesn’t even own a…”
LUIS (from back of patrol car): “Psst! Mom, icsh-ney on the orsshay!”


Ian: Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
Jurassic Park

But if you could, could you split lanes?


I hope the DUI charge is only one of many, because I really don’t see any way to make that charge stick.

Riding a horse != operating a motor vehicle.

I give you California Motor Vehicle Code 21050: Riding an Animal on a Public Highway (note: link does not contain actual text of statute, but rather some common-sense, ordinary language explication thereof).

ETA: This link contains some actual statute text, and it does appear that the common-sense application is that yes, a horseback rider is indeed subject to the same rules as the driver of a motor vehicle.


Said this the last time we had a story like this - it may be reckless endangerment, animal welfare problem, whatever, but in no way is it DUI.

The cops who charged that are lazy and inept. You don’t “drive” a horse under any interpretation of the term “drive”. In the UK you would be drunk in charge of a horse.

Doesn’t excuse the behavior of the horse rider endangering himself, the animal, and the other people on the road - but shouldn’t we expect that cops actually charge something close to whatever law is broken? (and I already know the answer to that)


Riding a horse on a freeway is a super bad idea, but at least he used a white horse for high visibility.


Said the same thing in a more long-winded way below. You are correct.

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I get that, and it makes sense.

But I remain sceptical that the DUI statute mentions anything about riding a horse.

The animals on the highway statute (21050) explicitly includes adherence to everything in Division 11, Rules of the Road, which includes DUI (23152).

I get your point, which is a sort of whatabouttery regarding the nature of the words “drive” and “vehicle”, but the wording of the codes clearly intends to include horseback riders, buggies, wagons, goat-carts, etc. without having to enumerate these in every single instance of a Rules of the Road law.


21050 kind of refutes the officer doesn’t it? I came here wondering why a cop would say you are not allowed to ride your horse on a freeway. AFAIK public roads can be used for any form of transportation.

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Are freeways a special kind of road? Maybe wrt minimum speeds not attainable on horseback? I can’t look that up right now…

It makes sense that driving a horse, or riding a car, or versa-visa, would be interchangeable, since the spirit of the laws are about safety, not what mode endangers it. Whew!

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You can lead a horse to water, but not on the 91 Freeway.


Horses are classed as a “conveyance” when ridden.

I grew up with horses. I used to ride almost every day, and believe me, DUI is an appropriate charge. A well trained horse trusts the rider beyond the point of safe. They can end up being dangerous, as a result, and the rider (i.e. driver) is responsible, because they did or did not take the appropriate action.

And to everyone who says it won’t stick: the law was designed to include horses as a conveyance. Any conveyance can get you a DUI, including a bicycle.


I would question any law that creates a special class of citizen with broader rights than other citizens based on their choice of conveyance. I’m sure there are states which attempt to prohibit the public use of a public road but I would question whether those laws would hold up to judicial review.

I think the law you quoted covers it very well

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

California Veh. Code §21960(a) says, in part:

(a) The Department of Transportation and local authorities, by order, ordinance, or resolution, with respect to freeways, expressways, or designated portions thereof under their respective jurisdictions, to which vehicle access is completely or partially controlled, may prohibit or restrict the use of the freeways, expressways, or any portion thereof by pedestrians, bicycles or other nonmotorized traffic or by any person operating a motor-driven cycle, motorized bicycle, motorized scooter, or electrically motorized board.


What about self-driving cars?

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