Can You Be Charged with DWI on Horseback in Texas?

Posted by Doug Murphy | Oct 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

Could law enforcement arrest you under suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DW) while you ride a horse in Texas? The idea may sound absurd, but in some states, a horse counts as a vehicle. Under current law, you could face arrest for DWI on a horse in Louisiana and Montana, among other states. It may not surprise you that horseback DWI arrests occur in Florida as well. So is it possible to get a DWI on horseback in Texas?

Can you Get Arrested for DWI on Horseback in Texas?

At first glance, it is easy to assume riding a horse while intoxicated would not qualify under the DWI statute. To be found guilty, you must have operated a motor vehicle on public roadways while intoxicated. However, the state's definition of a motor vehicle is vague. Texas Penal Code Section 32.34(a) defines a motor vehicle as:

a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.

There is some question as to whether an object like a bike is a motor vehicle under state law. There is no requirement that the vehicle must be motorized to qualify as a motor vehicle. So is a horse a “device?” At least one Texas prosecutor has attempted to argue that it is.

However, the legal odds are strong that you will not face charges for DWI if law enforcement determines you are intoxicated on horseback.  Many cowboys I know would agree that drinking beer or sipping on a cocktail while riding a horse is a part of the western heritage/cowboy way of life not to mention a Texas tradition.  Doug Murphy is committed to preserving the cowboy way of life, western heritage, and Texas traditions.  Not to mention the constitutional right to drink alcohol created by the abolishment of prohibition by the 21st Amendment of the United States Constitution on December 5, 1933.

Other Related Charges to Horseback DWI in Texas

If an officer believes you are clearly intoxicated while riding a horse, there are a number of charges they could file against you. The most obvious charge would be public intoxication. While an arrest for public intoxication does not carry the same consequences as a DWI conviction, it can still have a major impact on your life.

Depending on the factors surrounding your arrest, there are other potential charges you could face. If you are riding the horse in a way that puts it at risk of injury, you could face animal endangerment charges. The same is true if you have a child on the horse with you. Child endangerment arrests can have long-lasting implications on you and your family.

Outside of criminal charges, you could also face civil liability for any bodily injuries or property damage you cause while intoxicated on a horse.

The Value of a Strong DWI Defense in Houston, TX

Whether the prosecutor is overcharging you with DWI over a misunderstanding or if you are facing other serious crimes, it is crucial that you speak with a Houston DWI defense lawyer right away. In unusual cases like these, your attorney could show a prosecutor that a charge of DWI is inappropriate to your situation. This could lead to the charges against being reduced or even dismissed entirely.

Attorney Doug Murphy has built a reputation as one of the best DWI lawyers in Texas. He is a Board Certified expert in both DWI defense law and criminal defense law. To put his skill and experience to work for you, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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