It may seem outlandish to think that an individual could be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol on a horse, but the term “vehicle” is defined broadly under California statutes. It is possible for an individual to be charged with DUI for riding a horse while under the influence of alcohol. If you are facing DUI charges, then you should speak to a DUI lawyer to learn more about the legal options available to you.
A Horse May Be Considered a Vehicle Under California Statutes
Individuals on horseback have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Typically, a police officer will administer a breathalyzer test and determine if the arrestee’s blood-alcohol level is 0.08% or above. Sometimes, individuals charged with DUI while on horseback are also charged with animal neglect.
These cases are fact-dependent, and it can seem difficult to determine how reasonable suspicion was established unless the person on horseback was traveling on a freeway or other roadway where horses are not permitted. In California, any self-propelled entity may be defined as a vehicle. California Vehicle Code §21050 states that “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.”
The Same Traffic Laws in California Apply to Individuals on Horseback
Individuals who ride animals in California must adhere to the same traffic laws as those who drive automobiles. Any person who is under the influence of alcohol while riding a horse can be arrested for DUI. These charges are serious, and many individuals who face DUI convictions realize how much of their liberty they may lose if they are convicted of DUI.
DUI Laws and Public Policy
DUI laws are instituted to protect the public from the dangers posed by intoxicated drivers. A driver may pose a danger to themselves and others if they are intoxicated on a horse. These public policy decisions guide the legislature in drafting laws that promote the public good.
Although it can seem humorous to think about individuals being charged with a crime for riding a horse, enforcing DUI laws reduces the total number of accidents and fatalities that occur in the State of California. Public safety is one of the primary public policies behind DUI laws throughout the United States.
Legal Defenses Applicable to DUI Cases in California
A DUI lawyer can defend DUI cases involving both horses and automobiles. The legal principles are the same in both circumstances. A skilled attorney may be able to have the defendant enter a plea bargain if the defendant’s blood-alcohol level is slightly below the 0.08% threshold.
It is also possible to contest the assertion that the individual on horseback was “driving” as it is defined under the statute. Many legal defenses to DUI charges can be made based on the ambiguity in the statutory language defining the criminal offense. Also, the prosecutor must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and strong defenses can be based on emphasizing that the prosecution has not proven one of the required elements.
The Benefits of Retaining a DUI Attorney in California
When you hire legal counsel, you are also going to be able to take advantage of several privileges that will help you protect your legal rights. Attorney-client privilege and attorney-client confidentiality will help you speak candidly with your attorney about the facts of the case. By doing so, your attorney will be able to develop the best defensive strategy for your case.
Having a skilled attorney on your side can also make the prosecution more likely to offer a plea bargain if the case is factually complex. A knowledgeable DUI attorney can stand up to the prosecution and pressure them to consider entering a plea bargain. You will have more options as a criminal defendant if you retain a DUI attorney.
You Should Remain Confident throughout Your DUI Case
It is imperative that you remain confident throughout the entirety of your DUI case. You should be able to keep your head high during any phase of your DUI case. Being proactive about your defensive strategies will make it more likely that you will withstand the tactics used by the prosecution.
Being confident will also help you enter a plea negotiation with the prosecution. You are more likely to receive a reasonable plea offer if you present yourself as a person who is not going to repeat this same behavior in the future. Presenting yourself as a confident and respectful defendant will help you have a better chance of receiving a reasonable plea offer from the prosecution.
Preparing for a Criminal Trial
Approximately 95% of criminal cases are resolved through plea negotiation. You do not have to undergo a full trip to enforce your legal rights. Negotiating with the prosecution is one of the best things your DUI attorney can do at the early stages of the case.
Many clients believe they must go to trial to feel vindicated. However, you do not have to go before a judge to set forth the legal arguments which are appropriate to your case. Simply working with the prosecution to reach a mutually agreeable resolution is often the best outcome for DUI cases in the State of California.
We Are Here to Help You if You Have Been Charged with Driving Under the Influence
Being charged with a criminal offense can be traumatizing. You may be surprised to discover that you may be convicted of a misdemeanor. If you want to know how you can protect your legal rights and assert a strong defense, contact us today.
You do not have to handle every aspect of your defense on your own. A skilled DUI lawyer can provide you with everything you need to challenge the prosecution’s case against you. Our attorneys have years of experience helping clients who are facing DUI convictions.