In Pennsylvania it is illegal to operate or be in physical control of a vehicle after drinking enough alcohol to render the individual incapable of safely driving that vehicle. The law does not include the term “motor” in its definition of a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. The significance of this was highlighted in a recent case where police stopped a horse and buggy in Jefferson County.
Why would police stop a horse and buggy?
The police state they had received complaints earlier in the day about a horse and buggy driving recklessly throughout the area. After receiving these calls, officers observed a horse and buggy speed up while taking and turn and lock its brakes, causing it to skid and shoot off sparks. When the buggy pulled over to let the officers pass, the officers approached the driver.
At that time, they state the noticed the smell of alcohol and asked the driver if he had been drinking. The 20-year-old man allegedly admitted to having a few beers. The officers conducted a field sobriety test and arrested the man. They allowed him to wait by his horse until a family member could come care for the animal. The police have charged the man with a misdemeanor for driving under the influence and also gave him a traffic citation for careless and reckless driving.
How does this apply to other cases?
The case is an example of the power of DUI laws in Pennsylvania. They can extend further than people may realize. Some may be surprised to know that it is possible to get a DUI when driving something other than a car. You can also get a DUI while riding a bike, scooter, or golf cart.
How serious are these charges?
A DUI in Pennsylvania is very serious. If convicted, penalties range from up to $300 fine and 6 months of probation for a first offense to 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for those with two or more previous offenses if the accused has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 to 0.099%. Penalties increase depending on various circumstances, including a higher BAC or an accident.