DWI’s in North Carolina are no longer limited to just “driving while intoxicated;” apparently, after the conclusion in State v. Dellinger in 1985, North Carolina residents can also be charged with a “RWI,” or riding horses while intoxicated. State v. Dellinger, 73 N.C. App. 685 (1985).

I jest of course as the charge being called something different; however the result is the same: if you are caught riding a horse while intoxicated, you can be arrested and charged with a “DWI.” In Dellinger, the defendant was convicted for driving while impaired, based upon his riding of a horse down a secondary street. His blood alcohol concentration was at a 0.18, .10 degrees over the legal limit. The court’s rationale was to apply the same traffic laws to a person riding an animal, or having an animal pull a carriage or any sort of vehicle, should be held to the same standard as those simply driving vehicles. Moreover, the definition of “vehicle,” was left broad by legislature, implicating that horses are vehicles within the meaning of North Carolina’s General Statute 20-138.1, the statute that prohibits impaired driving. N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-138.1(2011).

Subsequently, the legislature acted a few years after the Dellinger conclusion, and made an express determination that a person should not be held to the same standards as one convicted of driving while impaired for riding a horse. The court also tossed around the idea of eliminating bicycles and lawnmowers from the definition of a “vehicle,” as well.

In 2006, the issue was brought to the legislature’s attention again for inactivity, and legislature finally removed “bicycle and lawnmower” from the definition of the prescribed vehicle that can yield the “driver” a DWI.

Oddly however, the legislature did not remove horse riding from the modes of transportation in question. They did not examine and amend the definition which still including horses, as well as failing to repeal North Carolina’s General Statute 20-171, which help aid with definition to begin with. N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-171(2011).

Thus, as of this date, horses (and a presumably other animals) will remain in the definition of “vehicle,” for the purposes of issuing a DWI. Remember not to drink and drive, nor drink and ride according to this strange southern statute.

Whatever the case may be, and whatever type of “DWI” you have been charged with, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower to have your claim evaluated. We are licesnsed in both North and South Carolina, where you can contact us at  704-499-9000 or 877-374-5999 toll-free.