A teenaged member of the Amish community is facing serious charges after losing control of his horse-drawn buggy in New Wilmington, according to local sources. Pennsylvania authorities have charged the 19-year-old man with drunk driving after he was pulled over by police under suspicion of intoxication. While this might seem unorthodox, a horse-drawn carriage is still considered a vehicle under state law, and the driver is therefore subject to the laws pertaining to driving a motor vehicle.
According to the police report, officers pulled the driver over around 7:30 p.m. on the night of Oct. 1 after the buggy he was driving was seen operating without flashing lights. Officers on the scene said they attempted several times to convince the driver to turn on his lights, after which the buggy was seen attempting to pass another buggy and swerving around the roadway. Police subsequently pulled the buggy over in a parking lot.
The 19-year-old allegedly failed two separate sobriety tests conducted by police on the scene. He was arrested and charged with drunk driving as a minor, driving under the influence with general impairment of driving safety and several other minor charges. His girlfriend, who was with him in the buggy, was given dispensation to take the buggy home safely. The accused man was later released into the care of his parents.
While this report may seem unusual, the fact remains that any vehicle operating on a roadway with other drivers is considered a motor vehicle under Pennsylvania law. However, prosecutors will need to prove the young man was indeed drunk at the time he was pulled over. Drunk driving charges can be difficult to prove in court, especially when defense representation will look carefully at the arrest record to ensure the driver's rights were observed throughout the process.
Source: sharonherald.com, "Teen Amish buggy driver faces DUI charges", Debbie Wachter, Oct. 16, 2017