Careful, There's A Drunk At The Reins
Oct. 15, 1985
DECATUR, Ind. (AP) _ Drunken drivers of horse buggies are no longer a novelty in this area, which is home to many Amish families, officials say.
Six Amish have been arrested for drunken driving since Sept. 16, 1984.
''We haven't been devoid of it in past years, but it was a rare instance - maybe one or two a year,'' said Adams County Superior Court Judge Lorren D. Caffee. ''Now, it's no longer a surprise. We hardly even mention it among ourselves when we see an Amish for DWI (driving while intoxicated). We've gotten over the novelty of it.''
The Amish are a deeply religious group who consider drunkenness a violation of their beliefs, but some have spent a night in jail for drunken driving.
One man was arrested twice. The first time, Adams County reserve officer Mike Meyer spotted a driverless horse-drawn buggy on a stretch of U.S. Highway 27, and discovered its driver passed out on the front seat.
Authorities said the man's blood-alcohol level was 0.17 percent both times he was arrested. A driver is considered drunk in Indiana if his blood-alcohol level exceeds 0.10.
The man could have received up to four years in jail on his second offense. But Caffee imposed a one-year sentence, with all but 30 days suspended, and a $300 fine.
Just 21/2 hours before the man was arrested for the second time, another buggy driver was arrested following a collision with a Sheriff's Department patrol car. The man at the reins tested at 0.19.
''I didn't want to turn on my siren because of spooking the horse,'' Deputy Larry Miller wrote in his report on the incident. ''So I pulled around the buggy and ... started to slow down. As I did, I heard a noise, looked back and saw the horse on the trunk of my car.''
Damage to the car was $363. The buggy driver received a $250 fine, eight days in jail and an order to pay restitution to the county.
Caffee says he's concerned over the possibility of uncontrolled buggies on Adams County's back roads, where slow-moving Amish carriages share pavement with swifter automobiles.
''It's a major danger,'' he said.