Woman Charged With Horseback Riding Under The Influence

By Bryan Le 11/06/17

Police caught the woman hoofing it while under the influence down a busy highway.

Horse tied to sheriff police car.
Both outlaw and horse were wrangled by sheriffs. via Polk County Sheriff's Department

After receiving several emergency reports of a confused-looking woman on a horse galloping down the highway, the Polk County Sheriff’s office wrangled the outlaw rider, 53-year-old Donna Byrne, to find that she was under the influence. 

Sheriff’s deputies managed to secure the horse with a rope to their car’s push bumper. Afterwards, they gave Byrne a breath test and found that her blood alcohol concentration was .161, a little more than double Florida’s legal limit of .08.

“Ms. Byrne was obviously not in any condition to be on the road,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a press release. “She not only put herself and the horse in danger, but also anyone who was driving on the road, which is typically very busy.”

Authorities have charged Byrne with a DUI and animal neglect for endangering her horse. According to police, this isn’t Byrne’s first rodeo. Her rap sheet includes five felonies and 10 misdemeanors, including cruelty to animals, possession of drugs, violating probation and criminal traffic.

The question of whether a DUI charge for drunk horse riding will stick is one without a clear answer. Because a horse is a living animal that is capable of making decisions, many states do not consider a horse a vehicle. A man in Louisiana chose to take his horse home from the bar because the horse “knows the way home.” Because the horse isn't a motorized vehicle, the DUI charges didn't stick, forcing deputies to charge the man with public drunkenness instead.

In Montana, where it is technically legal to ride a horse while drunk, a PSA was released that suggested—hopefully metaphorically—that having a horse “friend” take you home from the bar was a noble act:

But the strangeness of horse riders being slapped with DUIs doesn’t match up to the tale of Iowa police pulling a man over for taking his good friends, a zebra and parrot named Pee Wee and Izzy, for a drunken joy ride. 

“I said, ‘Let’s go for a ride. I ain’t been away from the farm for almost two months because I’ve been planting corn and everything else,’” Jerald Reiter explained to the Des Moines Register. “So I opened the door, the zebra jumps in, the macaw loves to go for a ride, so we went for a ride.”

Incidentally, his BAC was also reportedly double the legal limit when the cops got him.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter