Should An Unborn Baby Count as HOV Passenger? Texas Woman Says Yes
After getting a ticket for driving in a high-occupancy vehicle lane, a pregnant woman in Texas is fighting back. Her argument? Due to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, her unborn child counts as a passenger, so her ticket should be dismissed.
Brandy Bottone Gets Pulled Over
Brandy Bottone was stopped at an HOV checkpoint by Dallas on June 29th, right after the U.S. Supreme Court made its landmark decision about the historic case.
After she pulled over, the sheriff’s deputy asked her who else was in the car, since she was driving in the HOV lane. Bottone pointed at her waist, indicating her unborn child.
KWTX reports that according to the Washington Post, she was 34 weeks pregnant at the time. The officer told her it had to be two bodies outside of the body and that her pregnancy didn't count. She received a $215 ticket.
Speaking to CNN, Bottone said:
I was kind of in shock. I was like, ‘Well, in light of everything that’s happened – and I’m not trying to make a huge political stance here – but do you understand that this isn’t a baby?
Who Can Use the HOV Lane?
According to txdot.gov, a 'vehicle occupied by two or more people or a motorcyclist may use HOV lanes.' The vehicles eligible to use HOV lanes include, but are not limited to:
- passenger cars
- pickup trucks
- emergency vehicles responding to a call
**Note: Hybrid vehicles with single occupants are not allowed in HOV lanes.
Do Babies Count for HOV Lane in Texas?
Texas’ penal code recognizes an unborn child as a person, but the Texas Transportation Code does not. According to ridemetro.org, a baby or a toddler is considered an occupant for meeting the HOV lane requirement.
Social Media Response
The officer admitted she could fight the ticket, and hundreds of people on social media have agreed that it should be dismissed. Bottone says she's heard from people as far away as New Zealand, adding that the majority of responses have been positive and encouraging.
Bottone has hired an attorney and has a court date in late July to fight her ticket, but she’s also looking for a ruling about whether the fetus is seen as a life, allowing pregnant women to use the HOV lane. She's already 36 weeks into her pregnancy, and just hopes she doesn't go into labor before then.