Can You Legally Use the HOV Lane While Pregnant? The Police Said No, but a Judge Agreed

A Texas woman named Brandy Bottone used the HOV lane while alone in the car. The Police stopped her and handed the driver ticket for not respecting the law. She claimed that being pregnant gives her the right to use the HOV lane because two people are traveling in the same vehicle, even if only one seat is occupied. The officers didn’t agree. However, a judge did. Now, she was recently issued another ticket for the same reason. Here’s what you need to know.
Pregnant Driver 6 photos
Pregnant DriverPregnant DriverPolice Looking Out for People Who Break the HOV RulesPolice Issuing a Fine For to People Who Broke the HOV RulesPolice Looking Out for People Who Break the HOV Rules
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes can be used by almost any type of vehicle if two or more people are inside it. The only exception to the rule is motorcyclists – they can use the HOV lane while riding alone. The Police make sure this regulation is enforced, and Texas even has an HOV Courtesy Patrol.

Brandy Bottone thought she and her unborn baby could be considered two people, so the 32-year-old made sure to get on the HOV lane. She learned about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and, according to Texan law, women can’t have an abortion unless the pregnancy is a threat to their wellbeing. Also, as the Texas Penal Code says, a fetus is a “human being who is alive.”

With this logic in mind, she drove in the HOV lane until the Police stopped her. She explained to the officers that she isn’t alone in the car since her pregnancy was already in the 34th week. The Police didn’t agree with the reasoning and gave her a $275 ticket. Bottone went to court and won. The judge agreed with her logic. This happened a little over two months ago.

But she received another ticket for the same reason in August, according to NPR. Now, a Dallas District Attorney spokesperson said the “case is pending” without uttering anything about the ticket being dismissed. Since the new ticket is in the prosecutor’s hands now, they can decide if it withstands or if it’s not worth going to court for. But the precedent already exists, so the District Attorney has a very low chance of convincing a judge that Bettone was indeed traveling alone in the HOV lane.

Keep in mind that state law may be different in your area. Make sure to check before applying the same strategy with officers and, if ticketed, in court.

But American creativity doesn’t stop here. Three years ago, a man from Nevada claimed that having a corpse in the car allowed him to hop on the HOV lane. Back then, the Police said both people inside the vehicle had to be alive, so they issued the driver a warning.


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