You don’t have to drive a car to face criminal DUI charges in Kentucky. This is the reality 34-year-old Reuben Andy Yoder knows all too well. Yoder was arrested for DUI after his horse-drawn carriage collided with a car at an intersection in Smiths Grove.
When officers arrived on the scene, Yoder had difficulty standing and admitted to drinking alcohol before the accident. He was arrested for DUI after failing roadside field sobriety tests. He faces several criminal charges, including operating a non-motorized vehicle under the influence.
DUI For Operating a Non-Motorized Vehicle
In Kentucky, it’s illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s also illegal to operate a non-motorized vehicle while drunk or impaired. According to KRS 189.520, “no person under the influence of intoxicating beverages or any substance which may impair one’s driving ability shall operate a vehicle that is not a motor vehicle anywhere in this state.”
Is a horse-drawn carriage a non-motorized vehicle for the purposes of KRS 189.520? Yes. You can get a DUI for operating any of the following non-motorized vehicles:
- Horse-drawn carriages
- Paddle boats, kayaks, or canoes
- Electric toy cars, or
- Hot air balloons.
Some counties also classify mopeds as non-motorized vehicles.
Intoxication and Non-Motorized Vehicle DUI
There are two ways to get a DUI in Kentucky. The first involves having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that equals or exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent. Your BAC can be tested with a breathalyzer or blood test. It is important to note that there will be a presumption of non-impairment if your blood alcohol concentration is below .05 percent.
What happens if your blood alcohol falls between .05 percent and .08 percent? This will involve an officer’s discretion. Police officers have the authority to arrest you for DUI if, based on probable cause, they believe that you are impaired.
Here, Yoder was arrested for DUI not because he failed a breathalyzer, but because his behavior indicated that he might be drunk. He was unsteady on his feet, failed a field sobriety test, and even admitted to being drunk. Based on these facts, officers concluded that he was intoxicated in violation of the law.
Operating a Non-Motorized Vehicle While Drunk Is a Violation
Even though it’s illegal to operate a horse-drawn buggy while drunk, the crime isn’t quite as severe as a traditional DUI. If you’re arrested for a non-motorized vehicle DUI, you’ll only be charged with a violation.
Since non-motorized vehicle DUI is not a misdemeanor or a felony, the penalties aren’t too harsh. A conviction will result in fines ranging between $20 and $100 for each offense. You won’t face any time behind bars if you’re only charged with non-motorized DUI.
It’s important to note that police officers are legally obligated to arrest you for operating a non-motorized vehicle if they suspect that you are impaired. According to KRS 189.990, an officer will be fined for not enforcing this DUI law.
Defending Non-Motorized DUI Charges
Just because you’re arrested on suspicion of driving a non-motorized vehicle while drunk doesn’t mean that you’ll be convicted. You have the right to defend yourself against all DUI charges. A strong defense, which explains or justifies your behavior, can make it difficult for the state to build a strong case.
Defenses you might want to consider include:
- Illegal stop
- Illegal search and seizure
- You were not operating a non-motorized vehicle
- You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Problems with the breathalyzer or blood test, or the way the tests were conducted, or
- Field sobriety test not conducted properly.
Even though non-motorized DUI is a violation, it’s still important to defend the charges vigorously. You deserve to have a clean record free of any wrongful charges.