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Woman Fighting Charges for DUI on Horseback Loses Custody of Animal

A Florida woman caught allegedly riding her horse while highly intoxicated in early November is now facing additional charges, and the loss of custody of her horse when a judge deemed she was unfit to provide proper care for the animal.

Donna Byrne was celebrating her 53rd birthday on November 2, when she had decided to ride her horse, Bo Duke, to a local store to buy herself spurs and spur straps.

A concerned person who saw Byrne contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and reported that a woman who appeared disoriented was riding a horse down a busy road.

When deputies responded they allegedly found Byrne weaving down the highway on horseback and said they found her showing several signs of intoxication. They administered a breath test and reported that the results showed her blood alcohol level was near twice the legal limit.

Byrne was arrested and charged with DUI and animal neglect. She has been further ordered to obtain treatment for alcohol addiction.

Judge Sharon Franklin has now determined that Bo Duke must be kept in the care of the sheriff’s office. Franklin believes Byrne showed disregard for the safety of her horse and that she put him in danger. Byrne was given permission to visit with the horse if she is not intoxicated.

On January 11, Byrne is scheduled to appear in court concerning added pending charges of disorderly intoxication, animal endangerment, and culpable negligence. Her lawyer plans to address the matter of Bo Duke’s custody, and he believes Byrne was legally considered a pedestrian at the time of her arrest, as she was not operating a motor vehicle.

Byrne stated in an interview that she was not intoxicated when she was taken into custody. She said that she was slumped forward on the horse in order to scratch her leg, and not due to drinking as the charges allege.

If you or someone you love is suspected of DUI, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.  

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