Pregnant woman ticketed in HOV lane says fetus should count as passenger

A pregnant woman ticketed for driving in a high-occupancy vehicle lane in Texas says her fetus should count as a second passenger, citing the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Brandy Bottone of Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, was driving in the HOV lane on U.S. Hwy. 75 on June 29 when she was pulled over after passing a Dallas County Sheriff Department’s checkpoint targeting those driving in the lane alone, the Dallas Morning News reported Friday.

When law enforcement asked her if anyone else was in the car, Bottone responded that there was and pointed to her stomach.

“My baby girl is right here. She is a person,” Bottone told the officer, recounting the incident to the newspaper.

Bottone said the deputies told her that the law required there to be two people outside of the body to drive in the HOV lane.

Texas penal code defines an “individual” as a “human being who is alive including an unborn child at every stage of gestation.” However, the Texas transportation code does not recognize that distinction.

“One officer kind of brushed me off when I mentioned this is a living child, according to everything that’s going on with the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Bottone said.

The deputies gave her the citation despite her protest of the law but told her it would likely get dropped if she were to fight it in court.

“They still gave me a ticket. So my $215 ticket was written to cause inconvenience?” she asked. “This has my blood boiling. How could this be fair? According to the new law, this is a life. I know this may fall on deaf ears, but as a woman, this was shocking.”

Bottone told KXAS-TV that she was 34 weeks pregnant at the time of the traffic stop and plans to fight the ticket in court.

“Different judges might treat this differently. This is unchartered territory we’re in now,” Dallas appellate lawyer Chad Ruback said.

“There is no Texas statute that says what to do in this situation. The Texas Transportation Code has not been amended recently to address this particular situation.”

Amy O’Donnell, spokesperson for the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life, noted that “a child residing in a mother’s womb is not taking up an extra seat.”

“With only one occupant taking up a seat, the car did not meet the criteria needed to drive in that lane,” she said.

Bottone is scheduled to appear in court on July 20 to fight her ticket.