POLK COUNTY -- A 53-year-old woman was arrested for DUI on a horse and animal neglect after deputies say she rode the horse named Bo Duke in the roadway, putting drivers and the horse at risk.

Donna Byrne was arrested just before 2 p.m. Thursday near Combee Road and North Crystal Lake Drive in Lakeland. Sheriff Grady Judd said she rode her horse drunk all the way from Polk City to Lakeland, a 10 mile trot.

"She ultimately was going to the county jail," Judd said. "She just didn't realize it when she saddled up her horse and rode into town."

According to the affidavit, deputies responded to the area on report of a witness saying the woman appeared confused and possibly in danger. Deputies say she had a strong odor of alcohol. She failed the sobriety test and was arrested for DUI.

Byrne provided breath samples of .157 and .161. A breath alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit in Florida.

State law defines a "vehicle" broadly: Pretty much anything you can ride in or on on a highway. That's why when deputies got calls about this woman swaying down the road on a horse, they charged her with DUI.

"We wanted to interview the horse, and he said he didn't have anything to say about it," Judd joked, making a neighing sound as he said anything.

She is charged with animal neglect, and failing to provide proper protection for the horse because she rode the animal in the roadway.

The horse was taken by deputies to the Polk County Sheriff's Animal Control livestock facility.

Byrne's prior criminal history includes five felony and ten misdemeanor charges, consisting of cruelty to animals, drug possession, probation violation, and criminal traffic.


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