Polk City woman arrested for DUI on horse

Donna Byrne and the horse that was confiscated by authorities.

POLK CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A call from a concerned citizen led to the arrest of a Polk City woman on a charge of DUI on a horse.

Deputies responded to Combee Road near North Crystal Lake Road in Lakeland at 1:37 p.m. on Thursday. A passerby had called 911 to report seeing a woman who appeared confused and possibly in danger.

Deputies say they arrived to find Donna Byrne, 53-years old, on a horse and smelling of alcohol. She had red, watery eyes and was staggering.

A field sobriety test was conducted, and she was arrested for DUI. Deputies say Byrne provided breath samples of .157 and .161. A breath alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit in Florida.

“She had ridden that horse probably about ten miles just as drunk as she could be,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “This lady was twice the legal limit. She was scaring the cars cause was weaving the horse up near and onto the road. And back off into the side of the road.”

Byrne was also was charged with animal neglect for failing to provide proper protection for the horse, which was being ridden in the roadway, placing it in jeopardy of being injured or killed, according to deputies.

“If you’re going to ride a horse in Polk County, stay sober or stay in a pasture,” Sheriff Judd said.

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 10 misdemeanor charges, consisting of cruelty to animals, drug possession, probation violation, and criminal traffic.

“Ms. Byrne was obviously not in any condition to be on the road. She not only put herself and the horse in danger, but also anyone who was driving on the road, which is typically very busy.”

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