DUI’s have been in the news lately, especially with what seems absurd charges like a DUI on a horse! One might wonder what qualifies as a vehicle? Can a person get a DUI on a horse? What about a bicycle? What about a golf cart?
The Florida DUI statute states that in order for a person to be found guilty of a DUI, the person must be found to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle. We can discuss “actual physical control” in another blog post, as our purposes here are to define “vehicle.”
So what is a “vehicle”. Florida statute defines a vehicle as “every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except personal delivery devices and devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” By this definition a vehicle is any device by which a person or property may be transported. Devices are manmade. They are objects. This definition of a vehicle, which does not include having any sort of motor or engine, allows bicycles to be included in the definition of a vehicle. Therefore, a person can be found guilty of a DUI on a bicycle. You can also be found guilty of a DUI on a golf cart, or any other type of device that fits the definition of a vehicle.
That brings us to a horse. As a defense attorney, I would argue first that the horse is a mammal and not a device. Therefore, a horse does not fit the definition of a vehicle. Next, there is an exception within the Motor Vehicle statutes for “animals and animal-drawn vehicles” that allows them to be treated as pedestrians. Finally within the statute, it states that whenever sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians can walk on the shoulder of a highway on the left side facing traffic. As there are no precedent horse DUI cases that I can find, this particular case should be interesting.