Legal Blog Watch has a perfect Friday story up on its pages. Two men were arrested for riding animals while drunk. One guy was on a mule, the other was on a horse.
But when they got to the police station, the county attorney determined that the animals did not fall within the definition of “a device in, on or by which a person or property is, or may be, transported or drawn on a highway,” to trigger a DWI arrest. And so the men were released.
OF COURSE this happened in Texas…
Legal Blog Watch has this summary of the case of the drunken riders:
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Austin police quickly descended on the men, put them in handcuffs, and loaded their horse and mule onto a trailer bound for an animal shelter. Rios, the mule rider, was charged with DWI. A police affidavit said that Rios “had bloodshot eyes and was swaying, staggering and stumbling, and that he told officers he’d had ‘two vodka and cranberry drinks.'”
When the case reached the desk of Travis County’s County Attorney, David Escamilla, however, he was not convinced that riding the farm animals met the language of the DWI statute. After researching similar cases in other states, Escamilla’s office dropped the case, stating that the law did not support DWI on an animal. “It has to be a motor vehicle or device,” Escamilla explained. “And our research shows a mule is not a motorized vehicle. To be absolutely sure, I watched a few episodes of ‘The Lone Ranger,’ and not once did I hear the masked man refer to Silver as a device.”
Escamilla added that the Rios choice of vodka and cranberry seemed all wrong, too. “That doesn’t seem like the right drink. This story begs for tequila,” he said.
David Escamilla, you are now my favorite lawyer. Not only did you make a Lone Ranger joke, you also made fun of the guys for drinking vodka cranberry. Consider me an early contributor to the David Escamilla for Texas Attorney General campaign.
(Lat respectfully dissents from this mockery of vodka cranberries.)
I do have one outstanding legal question I’m hoping Escamilla or some other legal scholar can answer for me: What if the horses were drunk? What if the horses were drunk and pulling a buggy, but the men weren’t in the buggy, they were on the horses? What if the men were sober and in the buggy, but the horses were still trashed?
Okay, that’s more than one question. Basically, I want to know the potential liability for every possible combination of horse, rider, and alcohol.
Of course, I already understand that sitting in a saddle doesn’t give you immunity from every possible legal infraction. The Austin-American Statesman reports:
But [Austin police commander Jason Dusterhoft] said police plan to charge both men with another crime now: public intoxication, an offense for which they face up to a $500 fine.
That’s fair. I mean, there were two drunks riding around on a horse and a mule in the middle of the city. You can’t do that.
Farm Animals Not ‘Motor Vehicles’ for Purposes of DWI Charge [Legal Blog Watch]
Sixth Street cowboys hoofed it west, but couldn’t escape posse [Austin American-Statesman]