Pregnant Driver Gets 2nd Ticket for Driving in HOV Lane

'You again?' deputy said to Brandy Bottone, who claims Texas abortion law supports her case
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2022 3:45 PM CDT
Updated Sep 1, 2022 10:11 AM CDT
Driver Argues HOV Ticket, Saying Pregnancy Makes 2
Stock photo   (Getty/Michael Vi)

Update: A traffic citation for a pregnant Texas woman who drove in the HOV lane, claiming her unborn baby counted as a passenger, has been dismissed. But Brandy Bottone decided to tempt fate, and Texas cops, once again: The Dallas Morning News reports the 32-year-old Plano woman was ticketed a second time, for the same offense, earlier this month. "You again?" a deputy sighed after she was pulled over. Bottone says she wasn't trying to prove a point this time around—she notes that she just needed to get someplace, and that the legality of it all still hasn't been sussed out. The Texas Legislature hopes to do just that next year. It's not clear if the second ticket will also be dismissed, per NBC News. What is clear is that Bottone won't be getting a third ticket for this kind of thing, at least not in the near future: She had her baby girl about four weeks ago. Our original story from July 9 follows:

A woman who was ticketed for driving alone in a car-pool lane is contesting the citation, saying she should count as two people because she's pregnant. Texas law requires at least one passenger in a vehicle using an HOV lane, WRC reports, though the state's penal code agrees with Brandy Bottone's reasoning. The Plano woman lost the argument with the sheriff's deputy who pulled her over but said she'll fight the $275 ticket in court, citing Texas' new law prohibiting abortion.

Bottone said the officer who pulled her over asked if she was alone in the car. "No, there's two of us," she answered, and when he asked where the other person was, Bottone pointed to her stomach and said, "Right here." The officer said, "Oh, no. It's got to be two people outside of the body," she said, per the Dallas Morning News. "How could this be fair?" Bottone, who was 34 weeks pregnant at the time, said later. "According to the new law, this is a life."

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"Different judges might treat this differently," a Dallas lawyer said, per WRC. "There is no Texas statute that says what to do in this situation." The state's transportation code has not been changed since the abortion measure became law; Bottone said the laws should be consistent. She said she had told the officer, "Well, not trying to throw a political mix here, but with everything going on, this counts as a baby." Bottone's court date is July 20, which is just about her due date. (Read more HOV lane stories.)

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