San Angelo is well-known for its rodeo roots and rich ranching heritage. Yet it is not every day that we see someone riding horseback down Chadbourne Street. So, apart from occasions like rodeo parades or special events, is it legal?

According to the San Angelo Police Department, it is totally, absolutely legal to ride a horse as your mode of transportation, as long as you follow road rules. You must obey stop signs, street lights, and yield signs, like anyone driving a motorized vehicle.

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So, having said that, can you sip a cold beer while riding a horse without the legal consequences of a DWI?

You might assume riding a horse while intoxicated would not qualify under the DWI statute. You might think that to be found guilty of driving while intoxicated, you must have operated an actual motorized vehicle on public roadways while intoxicated. The state's definition of a motor vehicle, however, is vague. Texas Penal Code Section 32.34(a) defines it as:

A device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway.

There is some question as to whether a horse qualifies. But there is no requirement that the vehicle must be motorized.

If a law enforcement officer believes you are clearly intoxicated while on horseback, charges could be filed against you. The most obvious charge would be public intoxication. While not the same as a DWI conviction, it can still put you at risk. Perhaps better to leave those adult beverages at home.

But otherwise, saddle up San Angelo. Save some gas. You’re 100% legal!

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