California, known for its diverse population and varied transportation methods, presents a unique concern for some charged with a DUI (driving under the influence): Can you receive a DUI while riding a horse? Understanding the legal aspects of this scenario from a credible Los Angeles DUI attorney is crucial, especially if you find yourself in such a situation in southern California.
DUI Laws and Vehicles in California
Official California Vehicle Code defines DUI offenses as applicable to individuals operating a “vehicle.” However, the definition of a “vehicle” is broad and includes many devices used for transportation, such as four-wheelers, trucks, and even animals. This means that riding a horse while under the influence can lead to a DUI charge, as became evident in the case of a Long Beach man in 2018 who rode his horse down the 91 Freeway at twice the legal limit.
Although horseback riding may not immediately come to mind when considering how someone is charged with a DUI offense, California law does have codes that can apply to riding a horse under the influence. Since horses are considered “vehicles,” riding while intoxicated can be interpreted as operating a vehicle under the influence, similar to driving a car.
As a result, individuals riding a horse while impaired by alcohol or other types of drugs can face DUI charges in California.
Potential Consequences of DUI on a Horse
If you are charged with a DUI while riding a horse in California, you may face similar consequences as someone charged with a DUI while driving a motor vehicle. These consequences can include:
- License suspension
- Jail or prison time
- Fines and fees
- DUI school
- Ignition interlock device on owned motorized vehicles
- DUI probation
The severity of penalties for a DUI charge is determined by the court based on the circumstances of the offense, such as blood alcohol content (BAC) level, endangerment of people in one’s vicinity, repeated offenses, injury/manslaughter, and more.
If you find yourself charged with a DUI while riding a horse in California, it is crucial to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney. A Los Angeles DUI Attorney can provide you with a clear understanding of the legal implications you may face, as well as manage case outcome expectations. An attorney will guide you through the legal process, review the specifics of your case, gather relevant evidence, and present the strongest possible defense to the courts, employing a number of different DUI defense strategies to protect your rights and interests.
Collateral Consequences of a Horse DUI
The thought of getting a DUI while riding a horse drunk may initially seem laughable until you find out the severity of the consequences you will face. In addition to the criminal penalties associated with a horse DUI conviction on your record, you will also need to deal with the collateral fallout associated with drunk driving convictions.
Collateral consequences describe every way the rest of your life will be affected by your guilty verdict. Some of the most common types of consequences people deal with include:
- Trouble finding affordable housing
- A permanent conviction on their record
- Being passed over for job opportunities
- Inability to vote while incarcerated
- Difficulty with child custody or visitation rights
- Having your gun rights taken away
You can expect your auto insurance rates to dramatically increase if you have a horse DUI conviction on your record. You might think this is unreasonable, but the insurance company will consider you a risky driver if you have a drunk driving conviction on your driving history. You may be required to submit SR–22 insurance forms which will increase your auto insurance rates exponentially.
If you cannot afford these costs, you may need to rely on friends and family members or public transportation to get you to work every day. If these options are not available, it may be difficult or impossible for you to continue providing for yourself and your family. For this reason, getting an experienced DUI attorney on your side after being charged is a top priority so you can protect your future.
How to Defend Yourself When Accused of Riding a Horse Drunk
When you work with a horse DUI lawyer to help you dodge a conviction, there are several potential legal options that may be available to you. Before you prepare to bring your case to court, you may want to consider whether pretrial diversion is a viable option in your case.
Pretrial diversion programs allow those facing non-violent criminal charges the opportunity to avoid incarceration, other severe penalties, and criminal convictions. When you enter a pretrial diversion program, you will be required to complete specific terms. If you fail to follow the terms of your pretrial diversion program, the prosecuting attorney will move forward with the horse DUI charges against you.
Some of the potential requirements you may need to meet if you enter a pretrial diversion program include:
- Completing a HAM or MADD VIP program
- Attending regular meetings with a probation officer
- Complete a mental health counseling or a group therapy requirement
- Completing random drug or alcohol testing
- Using an IID in your vehicle for the duration of your enrollment in pretrial diversion
- Pay in court costs and restitution fees to any victims in your case
- Attending DUI school and drunk driving education courses
- Following curfew regulations and restriction
- Securing gainful employment
Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify for a pre-trial diversion. Generally, only those facing first-time offenses will be eligible. However, if your case needs to go to trial, your Los Angeles DUI attorney will determine which defenses are most suitable for your case.
Some examples of such defenses could include:
- Challenging breathalyzer test results due to calibration or administration issues
- Unlawful stop by police or illegal seizure or search
- Other constitutional rights violations
- Police or prosecutorial misconduct
- BAC lab test result mistakes or errors
- Use of prescription medication or a health condition that impacts the result of your chemical blood alcohol test
Receiving a DUI on a Horse: Next Steps
In California, riding a horse while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs can potentially result in a DUI charge. If you are facing a DUI charge on a horse, seeking legal advice from a Los Angeles DUI attorney is crucial to navigating the legal process and protecting your rights. Remember, it is always best to prioritize safety and avoid riding any type of vehicle while under the influence.