Best Traffic Court Argument (semi-finalist)

All right, so she lost, but the judge should’ve thrown out the fine for pure creativity and enterprise.

In a case that Sam Alito clearly wouldn’t have said squat about in the Senate, an Arizona woman faced with a $360 traffic ticket for driving solo in a two-or-more carpool lane argued that her unborn child (she was very, very pregnant at the time) counted as another person, and thus she and baby-to-be were, in fact, sharing the ride.

Like many fine points of law, this is patently absurd on the face of it, but becomes interesting if you really start looking at it. After all, if the driver, one Candace Dickinson, had been the victim of a violent crime, Arizona law would’ve defined the fetus as a victim in its own right. So the fetus is a person in a homicide, but not in a traffic infraction. Neat argument for a 23-year-old new (and presumably sleepless) mother representing herself.

And on one blog with an interest in babies (and after all, they’re so cute), a snarky post deriding Dickinson is met with a comment arguing that a womb-free child more than a decade from his or her own driver’s license would count as a carpool-worthy passenger, which is also fairly silly (the point of carpools being to get drivers to buddy up and reduce the number of cars).

The trial, reported in Arizona’s East Valley Tribune, raised a lot of fun issues and sparked controversy, but in the end, Ms. Dickinson lost. Which is for the best, particularly since drivers weaseling through the carpool lane are seriously annoying. Plus, one cop suggested to reporters that if Dickinson had won, officers would have to add pregnancy tests to their overburdened utility belts.

And you thought being told to stand on one leg and touch your nose was embarrassing …

— Brian McDonough


One Response to “Best Traffic Court Argument (semi-finalist)”

  1. confidentialservices Says:

    I have to say it was worth a try! The legal theory was sound. I think the court was wrong to use choose its own definition for use in the case, when the legislature had already supplied one. If we all get to adopt our own definitions as it suits us, I think I want my definition of kill to be “to speak unintelligibly and go eat icecream.” and while we’re all making up our own definitions, you can interprate that definition since its made up entirely of words, to mean whatever seems good to you. Nevermind what I meant when I made it up. It’s an approach I’ll never get to use, since I’m a man and therefore immune to pregnancy, but I say she should win this round and the legislature should pay more attention in the future to how it decides what legal definitions it is giving to words and make its language reflect its intent.

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