Jan. 12, 2006 -- Sorry, expectant mothers. Your unborn children do not count as passengers in high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Arizona.
On Tuesday, an Arizona judge ruled that fetuses should not be considered passengers in HOV lanes. On Nov. 8, Ahwatukee, Ariz., resident Candace Dickinson, who was nine months pregnant and driving alone, hoped to break out of Phoenix's heavy rush-hour traffic and moved into an HOV lane. Police pulled her over and wrote a ticket.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety says a vehicle can't occupy the HOV lane unless two or more persons are in it. The statute, however, doesn't define what a "person" is.
Dickinson, 23, fought the ticket, saying that her then-unborn child was her other occupant. She appeared in court Tuesday to state her case, but Municipal Court Judge Dennis Freeman rejected her argument.
"My definition of a person is different than everyone else's, so the judge saw that it was different," Dickinson said.
Guns, Radios … and Pregnancy Tests?
Sgt. Dave Norton, who issued the ticket, appeared in court and said Dickinson's case was not unique.
"This is actually the second time I've had this excuse," Norton said. "And to follow her philosophy would require guns, radios and pregnancy testers. I don't think we want to go there."
In his ruling, Freeman said that the law was meant to fill an empty space in a car. He fined Dickinson $367 for improperly using the car pool lane.
Dickinson said that she did not agree with the judge's ruling but that she wouldn't challenge it.
"I understand the use of the lane," Dickinson said, "but I don't think I was wrong in using the lane, but that's it."