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Who's the dummy?

I've heard of people doing this but never seen it personally.

A commuter who put a homemade dummy in the passenger seat to sneak into the car pool lane was caught Wednesday near Seattle. But it wasn't because a cop realized the passenger was fake.Dummy.jpeg

Instead, the State Patrol trooper noticed the dangling belt buckle on the passenger side and suspected a seat belt violation.

Patrol spokeswoman Christina Martin told The Herald of Everett that the driver acknowledged trying to beat traffic by using the HOV lane.

He created his passenger by draping a rain jacket over plastic piping, topping it off with a Halloween mask of Gandalf, the "Lord of the Rings" wizard, a beard and a baseball cap.

The lengths people will go to in order to evade traffic laws. My own experiences with the HOV lane are mixed. The few times I've driven in them, on the way to North Miami they were useful but in Southern California the lane was rarely better than the non-carpool lanes.

The main reason I'm writing about the story is the following-

The trooper issued a $124 ticket and confiscated the dummy.
Does the policeman honestly have the right to seize the dummy? I'm just wondering if he's placed the department he works for in a situation where they can be sued.

I guess I want to know who has no brains in this story. Is it everyone?


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Comments (17)

Which dummy was seized, the... (Below threshold)
Dodo David:

Which dummy was seized, the one in the passenger seat or the one doing the driving?

I think the cop has the rig... (Below threshold)

I think the cop has the right to confiscate the dummy. There are two elements to the crime. One that the guy was in the HOV lane (cop testimony and probably video from the cop car camera) and two that he shouldn't be in the HOV lane because he didn't have a passenger. The dummy is the evidence for the second item. There may be an additional element in some sort of deceit or fraud. If the guy was just in the HOV with no 'dummy', that is one straightforward crime. The law may have a specific provision for propping up a dummy that constitutes a greater crime. If so, the case revolves around did he have a random collection of things in his car that could be perceived as a dummy but that was not his intent, or did he construct a dummy. Again, the dummy is part of the evidence.

Oh this is old news here in... (Below threshold)

Oh this is old news here in Northern Virginia, where both of the major highways into DC are HOV. On I-66, which is HOV-2 inside the Beltway, people have been known to use dummies for years.

Interestingly the HOV-3 restrictions on I-395 have given birth to something that seems to be unique to Washington's Northern Virginia suburbs, the slug line:


Best evidence rule says 'ta... (Below threshold)

Best evidence rule says 'take the dummy'.

No seat belt is an offense ... (Below threshold)

No seat belt is an offense that you can be pulled over for in Seattle? In CT it is a secondary offense, meaning that one can not be pulled over simply for the seat belt violation. You have to commit a moving violation first. Then you get 2 tickets or you get at least 1 ticket if the cop thinks it isnt worth his time for the original offense. No front plate is the same. I got busted for this last weekend. But the dummy Highway patrolman wrote that the owner of the car was the same as the driver. My car is leased, therefore I personally dont own it! And I wasnt driving. My friend was. So he is the owner of MY leased car. No fine here

Who has no brains in this s... (Below threshold)

Who has no brains in this story. Is it everyone? Safe Bet.

I used to live near an inte... (Below threshold)

I used to live near an intersection with an on-ramp to I95. (Yes that sucked for a lot of reasons which is why we moved). The stop sign before the on-ramp was rarely if ever observed. At bet most cars slowed down a little.

From time to time the town would park an off duty patrol car in a visible location with a uniformed mannequin in the driver's seat.

People stopped!

The HOV lanes in the Denver... (Below threshold)

The HOV lanes in the Denver area serve an estimated 4% of the commuting public, and provide a few suburbs with a rich source of revenue during rush hour.
I've had people suggest I get one of the inflatable girls from the adult emporium, but every cop in the metro area would be pulling me over to find out who was 2-timing with his girlfriend.
Better bet: Get a baby carrier and a lifelike doll. They install facing rear anyway.

It might also be especially... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

It might also be especially painful to that driver if that dummy was also his lover. Now he'll be spending Friday night alone.

HOV lanes are the stupidest... (Below threshold)
Roy Lofquist Author Profile Page:

HOV lanes are the stupidest idea since Carter's even-odd days for purchasing gasoline. They reduce the capacity of a highway when it is needed most! They increase pollution, accidents and commute time in the name of some future car pooling nirvana.

2 points for PH, but I hope... (Below threshold)

2 points for PH, but I hope that wasn't based on experience [ducking quickly].

"Is that a Twisted Sister ... (Below threshold)
the struggler:

"Is that a Twisted Sister pin on your lapel?"

I agree with Roy. Just drov... (Below threshold)

I agree with Roy. Just drove through Atlanta on I-75 this week. All it does is force 5 lanes of traffic into 4, which just makes congestion worse.

There's only one way to get through Atlanta - at 3AM, and it's worth planning a trip around their rush hour.

Everybody agrees that Chicago traffic sucks, but at least they offer reversable express lanes, which actually do some good.

I would be willing to pay ... (Below threshold)

I would be willing to pay to use the Hov lane if that was an option where I live.

When the costs of construct... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

When the costs of construction and effect on traffic flow are considered, HOV lanes are a complete boondoggle.

The economically and environmentally sound policy is to use all lanes for all traffic, subject to the usual traffic laws of course. It's better for the economy because the less time people have to spend commuting, the more time they have for productive use, and the more productive they will be for having spent less time traveling.

It's better for the environment because slower traffic means more time engines are running and emitting pollutants and CO2. Higher and constant speeds are more energy efficient than stop-and-go traffic. IF the HOV lanes actually encouraged enough carpooling to make them a net asset, they would have been a great idea.

HOV lanes are a prime example of a well-intentioned but fallacious concept which, once implemented, becomes impossible to discontinue. Their imaginary benefits were sold to the public, and the public bought the false promises. Now it is politically risky to suggest reversing the policy.

In the case at hand, the driver should have claimed he picked up the dummy hitchhiking and had no idea she wasn't real. As long as he could pass a breathalyzer test, he should be able to beat the traffic raps. ;-)

Jim, Jersey dumped some of ... (Below threshold)

Jim, Jersey dumped some of there HOV lanes after the found just what you mentioned.... freaking useless. Speaking for all in Atlanta I claim the same. DUMP THE HOV BS.

Unfortunately, Chicago subu... (Below threshold)
rich b:

Unfortunately, Chicago suburbs may soon be stuck with carpool lanes on the tollways. Hopefully the idea will die with the recent firing of the governor (his idea). Its become yet another dumb idea about traffic that government types still believe in but the public see though and hates.






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