At 34 weeks pregnant, Brandy Bottone was fined $US215 ($AUS314) for driving in a T2 lane by herself.
But it’s a penalty she is now fighting to be revoked, citing Roe v Wade’s recent overturning by the Supreme Court to claim that the finding means her unborn baby counted as another passenger.
Bottone was driving on a highway in Dallas on June 29 when she was stopped at a checkpoint, where she was asked by a sheriff’s deputy if she was the only person in the vehicle.
“No, there’s two of us,” Bottone said, and when the officer asked her where the other person was, she pointed to her belly.
According to Bottone, the official was not sensitive to her appeal.
“He was like, ‘I don’t want to deal with this . . . Ma’am, it means two persons outside of the body,’” she told the Houston Chronicle.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Bottone said one of the deputies told her that the fine would likely get overturned if she fought it, though she was still unhappy about being fined.
“This has my blood boiling,” she said. “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.”
“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. ‘So I don’t know why you’re not seeing that,’ I said.”
Bottone told television station KXAS that the state laws in Texas should be consistent on how the new laws recognise unborn children.
“I really don’t think it’s right because one law is saying it one way but another law is saying it another way,” she said.
Bottone, a Texas citizen, is due to appear in court on July 20, roughly the same time she is due to give birth.
Currently, Texas’ penal code recognises a foetus as a person. However, the Texas Transportation Code does not.
Dallas-based appellate attorney, Chad Ruback, who is not involved in Bottone’s case, told The Washington Post that he was unaware of any changes to Texas’ transportation codes.
“It’s entirely possible that Brandy could petition the representatives in legislature to make that change, but I have not heard about it if it happened,” he said.
“My impression is that I think she would be happy if she got out of her traffic ticket. Then again, these are unusual times we’re living in, that’s for sure.”
Ruback said that while the Texas Department of Transportation has not made public comments regarding changes to the transportation code, Bottone’s case is one that could move the state into “unchartered territory” following the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation ruling last month.
“I find her argument creative, but I don’t believe based on the current itineration of Texas Transportation Code that her argument would likely succeed in front of an appellate court,” he said.
“That being said, it’s entirely possible she could find a trial court judge who would award her for her creativity.”
“This is a very unique situation in American jurisprudence.”
Image: Jason Janik, The Dallas Morning News