Can you get a DUI on a horse? Details explained

It is illegal to drive under the influence. But do the same laws apply when you are riding under the influence?

The question of whether you can get a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) while riding a horse is intriguing and complex. While it might seem like an unusual scenario, it's a legal issue that has been addressed in various states across the USA. Let's explore the intricacies of this subject, examining state-specific laws and notable legal cases.

Understanding DUI Laws

  • Traditional Scope: Typically, DUI laws are designed to address the operation of motorized vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Extended Application: In some states, these laws extend beyond motorized vehicles to include non-motorized modes of transport, such as horses.

State-Specific Regulations

Let’s take a look at specific regulations that states in the USA have enforced:

Kentucky, California, North Carolina, and Florida

  • Varied Interpretations: These states have shown that it’s possible to get a DUI on a horse, although the laws primarily focus on motorized vehicles​.
  • California's Approach: Under California Vehicle Code Section 21050, horse riders on public roads must comply with vehicle codes, as evidenced in the case of People v. Fong​.
  • Penalties: In states like California, being convicted of riding a horse while intoxicated can lead to penalties similar to those for driving a motor vehicle under the influence, including jail time, fines, and suspended licenses​.

Legal Precedents and Notable Cases

Believe it or not, there have been related cases and lawsuits! We have enlisted a couple of notable ones here:

  • People v. Fong: This case in California set a precedent, asserting that horse riders are subject to DUI laws.
  • 2018 Case in California: A man was charged under the DWI code for riding a horse on a freeway, highlighting the enforcement of these laws​.

Alternative Charges in Other States

Besides DUI, if you ride under the influence, some states have alternative charges that you must be aware of:

  • Disorderly Behavior and Public Drunkenness: In states where DUI laws do not explicitly include horse riding, individuals may still face charges like disorderly behavior or public drunkenness​.
  • Animal Endangerment: Charges related to animal endangerment can also be a concern, given the potential risk to the horse's well-being.

Considerations for Horse Riders

While it’s not the same as driving a motorized vehicle under the influence, riding a horse while drunk is quite dangerous. We recommend that you keep your safety (as well as the safety of your horse) in mind:

  • Safety: Regardless of the law, riding a horse while intoxicated poses significant safety risks to the rider, the horse, and others.
  • Legal Advice: Riders should seek legal counsel if unsure about the laws in their state or if facing related charges.

The Debate Over DUI Laws and Non-Motorized Vehicles

  • Legal Ambiguity: The application of DUI laws to horse riding varies from state to state in the USA, leading to debates over the intent and scope of these laws.
  • Public Opinion: There's a divided opinion on whether DUI laws should strictly apply to motorized vehicles or include animals like horses.

How to Stay on the Right Side of the Law

It’s actually quite easy to abide by the law and not invite any trouble. A few things to keep in mind are:

  • Awareness of Local Laws: Understanding your state's specific DUI laws is crucial.
  • Responsible Riding: Avoid riding a horse if you've consumed alcohol or drugs, to prevent legal issues and ensure safety.

Preventative Measures

  • Education: Public awareness campaigns about the dangers and legal implications of riding a horse while intoxicated.
  • Community Engagement: Working with equestrian communities to promote safe riding practices.


Can you get a DUI on a horse? The answer varies by state, with places like California, Kentucky, and North Carolina having precedents for such charges, while others may not explicitly cover horse riding under DUI laws. The key takeaway for horse riders is to prioritize safety and stay informed about the laws in their area. As laws evolve and cases emerge, this topic remains a unique intersection of legal interpretation and public safety in the realm of equestrian activities.


Founder and Chief Editor of He has worked in the equine industry for over 10 years and is passionate about providing horse owners and enthusiasts the best resources and advice. His mission is to ensure everyone has access to reliable...