Pregnant Texas Woman Fights HOV Ticket, Arguing That Baby in Utero Counts as Second Person
Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
When Brandy Bottone from Plano, Texas, got pulled over on June 29 by an officer with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, she had no idea how viral her story was about to become.
Bottone had been driving on U.S. Highway 75 South, using the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane, when she approached what appeared to be a checkpoint.
“I was driving to pick up my son,” she told The Dallas Morning News. “I knew I couldn’t be a minute late, so I took the HOV [high-occupancy vehicle] lane. As I exited the HOV, there was a checkpoint at the end of the exit. I slammed on my brakes, and I was pulled over by police.
“An officer peeked in and asked, ‘Is there anybody else in the car?’
She replied “yes,” but after scanning the car and seeing no other occupants, the officer pressed her for an explanation.
“I pointed to my stomach and said, ‘My baby girl is right here. She is a person.'”
But that answer didn’t fly with the officer, who replied that a second occupant had to be “outside of the body.”
Bottone — who was 34 weeks pregnant at the time — doubled down, citing the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade and arguing that her unborn child, a person, counted. The officer still wasn’t having it.
“He was like, ‘I don’t want to deal with this,'” she recalled. “He said, ‘Ma’am, it means two persons outside of the body.'”
Another officer gave her the ticket, but also told her that if she fought it, it would probably get dropped. That wasn’t enough for Bottone, who has made the incident very public since then.
“But they still gave me a ticket,” she said. “So my $215 ticket was written to cause inconvenience? 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.
“I will be fighting it.”
According to the Texas Penal Code, “‘Individual’ means a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth” — which would include Bottone’s baby, but it seems the Texas Transportation Code does not make the same sort of specification.
Amy O’Donnell with Texas Alliance for Life told The Dallas Morning News that “the car did not meet the criteria” necessary to use the HOV lane.
“While the penal code in Texas recognizes an unborn child as a person in our state, the Texas Transportation Code does not specify the same,” she said. “And a child residing in a mother’s womb is not taking up an extra seat. And with only one occupant taking up a seat, the car did not meet the criteria needed to drive in that lane.”
When The Dallas Morning News reached out to Planned Parenthood for a statement, they declined to comment.
Many are labeling Bottone a “Karen” for creating such a stink about this issue and are getting riled up because of the topic in general, but Bottone is adamant about fighting the ticket and will be in court on July 20. Her sister has set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to “be donated to a charity supporting women’s rights.”
NEW: A woman in Dallas is arguing that she can’t be ticketed for driving alone in the HOV lane because she’s 34 weeks pregnant and the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—and Texas law now says a fetus is a person. She says they can’t have it both ways. https://t.co/LJecTAmw0i
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) July 9, 2022
Since her story has gone viral, Bottone has clarified that she didn’t intend her argument to be a political one, but rather a movement to resolve a legal discrepancy. She also says that she’s received a lot of support.
“It’s eye opening to see how many women have messaged me, reached out to me just wanting to be a part of this, saying ‘I’m here to support you,'” she said in an updated interview with The Dallas Morning News. “People in New Zealand are messaging me right now. I can’t get to everyone. I wish I could just tell them thank you.”
Bottone would see getting the ticket dropped as confirmation that she was in the right and pregnant women should be able to use the HOV lane, which would require some change in the wording of the Texas Transportation Code.
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