Is It Legal to Ride a Horse Drunk? We Say…Neigh

There are lots of different things you can drive drunk and still end up with a DUI, even if they aren’t cars. Under Colorado law, you must be driving “a vehicle” under the influence of alcohol or drugs to be charged with DUI. A “vehicle” is:

  • A device capable of moving itself or that can be moved on wheels or endless tracks

So a vehicle could be a bicycle or an electronic personal assistive mobility device (electric wheelchairs, Segways, maybe even those hoverboards that keep catching on fire). On the other hand, the law specifies that non-powered wheelchairs, snowmobiles, off-highway vehicles, farm tractors and other agricultural equipment don’t count. However, for the purposes of Express Consent, many of the above vehicles do still qualify, with the added penalty of driver’s license repercussions if you are caught and charged with DUI.

That said, we look to a curious case – the case of the horseback DUI.

Watch Me Whip – Watch Me Neigh Neigh

In 2013, a Colorado man was found riding down the road on a horse, slumping to the side of the animal and forcing pedestrians off the sidewalk. In true unbridled cowboy fashion, in his backpack he carried a pistol, some beer and a Pug (for cattle herding, you know. As the cowboys do). He was arrested and charged for a number of things, but hay, at least they weren’t DUI.

Is a horse a vehicle under Colorado law? It is capable of moving itself, but it does not qualify as a vehicle. There’s just not enough horsepower.

You can still face criminal charges for drunken horseback riding, however, the charge is minor (animal rider on highway under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance) and is only a class B traffic infraction. Of course, the man above also faced charges of prohibited weapons use and reckless endangerment, as well as animal cruelty for hitting the horse.

With any luck, the horse suffered no injuries from its rider’s tough encouragement, but if it did, then we hope that by now it’s in stable condition.

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