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Florida man sentenced in horseback drunk driving case

In a headline-grabbing case last September, a Florida man was taken into custody after he evaded police through downtown Bunnell. Initial reports indicated that the man was intoxicated at the time of the incident. The case was unusual, however, in the incident did not involve a motor vehicle-rather, the man rode a horse.

Earlier this month, the 29-year-old man pleaded no contest to charges of obstructing an officer without violence and for interfering with railroad tracks. Notably, allegations of drunk driving were absent from the charges, despite assertions by police and the media that the man was intoxicated as he rode the horse.

On the day of the incident, the man was apparently riding his horse to his grandmother's house when bystanders noticed that he appeared to be intoxicated. Police allegedly asked the man to dismount, but he apparently refused and rode away. Police followed him for over a half an hour. After his horse sustained an injury, the man dismounted and ran into some woods. Police dogs located him shortly afterwards.

Following the man's no contest plea, a judge sentenced him to 90 days time served and three years of probation. Since the man has already been in jail since September 24th, he will be released immediately. His alleged drunkenness was not addressed in the proceedings, and the state did not come forward with any Breathalyzer test results at any point in the process.

This suggests that the man was not, after all, intoxicated at the time of the incident, though there could be other reasons why the Breathalyzer results were not released. Breathalyzer devices need to be carefully and maintained and calibrated in order to provide accurate readings. For this reason, prosecutors must be able to prove that the device was working properly in order for its results to be admitted as evidence. If authorities fail to prove that the device was properly maintained, or fail to show that officers were properly trained in its use, the Breathalyzer evidence could be thrown out of court.

Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Man who rode horse through Bunnell changes plea," Frank Fernandez, Jan. 8, 2013

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