When a Horse is More than Just a Horse, and Also Qualifies as a “Vehicle”

UCLA lawprof Steve Bainbridge has an interesting post discussing cases in several states where people have been charged with driving under the influence because they were drunk while riding horses or mules. This despite the fact that DUI statutes are usually limited to people who were driving a “vehicle.” In ordinary language, the word “vehicle” generally refers only to inanimate objects, not horses or other beasts of burden. For this reason, I agree with Steve’s view that these charges are problematic. There may well be good reasons for state legislatures to ban drunk horseback riding. But if so, they should do so explicitly.

UPDATE: I wrote this post before noticing co-blogger Jonathan Adler’s recent post on the same subject.