DUI on a Horse and Buggy: Funny (not really) but is it a legal arrest?

It seems that about once a year in the Harrisburg area someone gets arrested for a DUI while either riding a horse or while attempting to drive a horse and buggy.

We had our latest one and it hit the national media.  The national media was all over it, of course…

Pa. police arrest Amish man in buggy for DUI


LANCASTER, Pa. — Police in central Pennsylvania arrested an Amish man on drunk driving charges over the weekend after he was found asleep in his moving buggy. Police said a 22-year-old man was slumped over and asleep in a slow-moving buggy on Sunday night.

An off-duty officer from nearby reported seeing the horse pulling the buggy at a walking pace as it straddled the center line.

Police said a breathalyzer test snowed the man’s blood-alcohol content was 0.18, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit for drivers.

Pennsylvania DUI while on a horse and buggy

As funny and as quaint as this story may seem, it involves a real life human being who probably does not have access to the internet to learn that this type of arrest is in fact probably illegal and improper under prevailing Pennsylvania case law.

The law is settled and has been so since 2004 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Noel that arresting a horse bound rider pursuant to 75 PS 3103 and subjecting him or her to the provisions of the Vehicle Code and specifically DUI is impermissible as the authorizing statute (law) (75 PS 3103) was found to be unconstitutionally vague.





-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, Pennsylvania DUI Attorney

I am the highest rated DUI Attorney in PA as Rated by Avvo.com
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PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.



5 Responses to “DUI on a Horse and Buggy: Funny (not really) but is it a legal arrest?”

  1. Mark Boston says:

    Dear PA DUI Attorney,
    After reading a number of post on this blog, it is pretty clear that many police officers in Pennsylvania are arresting innocent citizens for crimes they did not commit. I can only imagine the amount of stress and horror that this innocent people have to go through to clear their name of that DUI charge. My question is under Pennsylvania Law, is there any provision that punishes police officers who make clear transgressions like in this case the horse drawn buggy DUI?

  2. Mr. Boston,
    That is a great question. it is outside of my typical area of expertise. However, I do know for a patently unlawful arrest or one that is in violation of one’s constitutional rights, the victim (the arrested person) can sue under a federal cause of action for a civil rights violation under what is called a 1983 claim.
    -Justin J. McShane, Esquire-Harrisburg DUI lawyer

  3. Mark Stevens says:

    Justin your comments on this bizarre case are timely and on point, as always. The public’s initial reaction when the police make an arrrest for a “crime” that doesn’t really seem like a crime is sometimes a sarcastic laugh, like in this case, but then they’ll ask, “can they (the cops) do that?” And you answered the question!
    Best regards,
    Mark Stevens

  4. [...] about being drunk on a horse? photo source: DUI on a Horse and Buggy: Funny (not really) but is it a legal arrest? __________________ Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo [...]

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