Penn. Drunken Driving Law Does Not Pertain to Horses


Pennsylvania’s drunken driving law can’t be enforced against those on horseback, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday. Justice Russell M. Nigro penned the majority opinion that stems from charges filed against two men in Mercer County in 2002. Their horse was rear-ended by a truck as the pair were riding away from a bar on a dark country road. The driver of the truck and both men on the horse failed sobriety tests, but a county judge threw out the charges against the horseman, ruling the word “vehicles” in the state’s drunken-driving law doesn’t apply to horses.

The majority of the justices relied on the logic in a similar case out of Utah, in which judges said such a statute is confusing and too vague about which regulations — such as requirements for headlamps — would apply to animals as well as vehicles. In the lone dissent, Justice Michael Eakin issued his opinion verse: “A horse is a horse, of course, of course/but the Vehicle Code does not divorce/its application from, perforce/

a steed as my colleagues said./”‘It’s not vague,’ I’ll say until I’m hoarse/and whether a car, a truck or horse/this law applies with equal force/

and I’d reverse instead.”


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