The idea that you can only be arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) while operating a motor vehicle is a common fallacy that has garnered widespread discussion.
This notion was recently highlighted when police in Lakeland, Florida arrested a woman for riding her horse down a busy highway while intoxicated. Polk County police charged the 53-year-old woman with drunk driving, even though she was on a horse, not driving a car.
Multiple drivers called into the police station to report the woman after close-calls were made by cars swerving around her horse. Upon arriving at the scene, officers had the woman complete a sobriety test, with the resulting blood alcohol content coming in at 0.161 – more than double the legal limit allowed in the state of Florida.
Deputies stated that they felt they made the right call considering the Florida woman, her horse, and the drivers on the road were all in danger due to the irresponsible situation. Confirming that the woman had no right to be on the road at the time, in any condition and through any means of traveling, police charged her with DUI, as well as animal neglect for failing to provide proper protection for the horse on the busy highway.
As the Polk County Sheriff explained, DUI charges do not only apply to individuals operating motor vehicles. In fact, according to Florida Statute 316.003 (75), “vehicles” are defined loosely as “every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” This means that other sources of transportation like golf carts, bicycles and yes, even horses, could be considered a “vehicle” under Florida law and thus be subject to the same laws that govern motorized vehicles.
So, it is now crystal clear that being on any device that facilitates transportation on a public access road, street or highway under the influence could land you in police custody, facing charges of DUI.
What Are The Penalties For DUI Charges In Florida?
Florida law states that a person guilty of the offense of driving under the influence must have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. The penalties for a DUI charge vary depending on the nature of the charges and your history. For first-time offenders, you will be required to pay a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000 and imprisonment of no more than 6 months. A second-time offender will pay a fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $2,000 and face imprisonment of up to 9 months. The punishments for individuals violating the statute for the third time within the span of a decade or less are much more severe, including license revocation, increased fines and jail time.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI in Orlando or throughout Central Florida, contact Frost Law at (407) 670-5569 for a free consultation and case review by an experienced former prosecutor. Attorney Chad Frost has prosecuted hundreds of DUI cases, giving him the unique advantage of understanding how the prosecution thinks as well as the complexities involved with DUI cases.