Sorry horse owners, turns out you’re not actually allowed to saddle up and ride down to the local bottle-o when you’ve had a few too many drinks to drive. While you may not have learned about this in studying for your driving test, a horse is still considered a ‘vehicle’, meaning you can be charged for drink driving while riding – in Australia at least.
This somewhat obscure facet of drink driving laws made its way back into the public spotlight earlier this year when a Queensland woman was arrested for riding a horse through the drive-through at a local bottleshop with a BAC more than four times over the legal limit. She ended up being charged with “being in charge of a horse whilst under the influence of alcohol.”
— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) June 5, 2018
“Police want to remind the public that drink-driving does not just mean a vehicle, it can include a horse,” a spokesperson for Queensland Police said after the incident.
In fact, in most states of Australia you’ll find it’s illegal to ride a horse while drunk, while Victoria even has an antiquated law about being in charge of a “carriage” while drunk.
Not all places in the world favour this hardline stance, of course. Drunk riding is apparently an honored tradition in Spain, for example. While some of America frowns on drunk riding, in some states it remains legal to ride a horse while under the influence, a horsey hangover from Old West days when drunken cowboys could rely on their mounts to get them home safe.
One US PSA commercial even recommended a horse as a ‘sober friend’ to help you home – though in this case it was probably meant more as a metaphor.
Take this instance of a Louisiana man using this loophole to great effect a while back, avoiding a DWI by taking his horse “Sugar” home. “When you get a little too much to drink, why not ride a horse?” he told local news station WBRZ. “It’s safer that way. The horse knows the way home.”
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