High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways are reserved for cars carrying at least two “persons”.
But what’s a “person”?
The Supreme Court has declared that there are both “natural persons” (men and women) and “artificial persons” like corporations.
California traffic law recognized both “natural” and “artificial” “persons”.
Here’s the story of a California man who was carrying his corporation’s charter in the passenger seat when he was stopped and ticketed for driving in the HOV lane with only one “person” in his car. He’s defending himself by claiming that his corporation’s charter is (as per the Supreme Court) is also an artificial “person” and therefore he had two “persons” in the vehicle.
The case is going to court. The driver doesn’t expect the police officer to appear and therefore the case will be dismissed.
Why? Because the implications are explosive. First, if corporation papers can be construed as a second “person,” the whole HOV lane scheme may be destroyed. That’s interesting, perhaps amusing, but not profound.
But second, as the commentator in the following video implies, what about those who are ticketed for driving in the HOV lane without a passenger, but who are carrying a drivers license with an all upper case name on it like “ALFRED N ADASK”? What if such drivers contended that their proper name were, say, “Alfred Adask” and therefore the name “ALFRED N ADASK” on their drivers license is a second and separate “person”?
Would the courts have to rule that “ADASK” is a person separate from the person named “Adask”? Could the courts dare rule that “ADASK” and “Adask” were the same “person”? (If they did, “ADASK” would merely be an alias for “Adask”.)
These questions are kind of amusing and silly, but what if the all-upper-case name on your Drivers License (say, “ADASK”) really is presumed to be a second person, separate from the “person” of “Alfred Adask”? What if the presence of your Drivers License in your vehicle evidence that you (“Adask”) are always carrying a “passenger”? Is the presence of your Drivers License in your vehicle therefore evidence that your vehicle is being used to transport “passenger” and therefore engaged in commerce? Does your Drivers License (and the presence of a second person like “ADASK”) prove that you’re driving a “passenger vehicle”? Under “law,” does the operation of a “passenger vehicle” place a driver under greater liability than if he were merely “traveling” on the right of way?
Suppose a handful of people were prepared to drive in the HOV lanes around the country without another “natural person” in the car, and were eventually ticketed for improper use of the HOV lanes. Suppose these drivers were prepared to argue that the entity named in all-upper-case letters on their drivers license constituted another, separate “person” and therefore there were two “persons” in the vehicle and the ticket should be dismissed.
(More, they might even ask the court to mandate that the police be prohibited to issuing HOV lane tickets to anyone who had a drivers license. I.e., the only people who could be ticked for HOV violations would be those drivers who did not have a drivers license (or corporate charter) in their vehicle and also did not have a second “natural person”.)
A defense along this line might compel the courts in several states to rule on whether an all upper-case name like “ALFRED N ADASK” is, or is not, a “person” other than the “natural person” named “Alfred Adask”. If we had several rulings from several courts in several states as to whether “ADASK” and “Adask” signify the same person, or two distinctly different persons, we would have evidence to prove–or disprove–the hypothesis that “Adask” and “ADASK” signify two different “persons”.
If a handful of people who were politically correct (had drivers license, current registration and insurance) wanted to test this strategy, they probably wouldn’t be risking too much: a fine of say, $250, if they’re found guilty of an HOV lane violation. In return for that $250, we might learn a lot about how the “system” really functions.
In the California case cited in the video below, the driver predicts that the cop won’t show at the municipal court, the ticket will be dismissed, and the issue of whether the corporate charter constitutes a second “person” will therefore be avoided. If it turns out that the drivers’ prediction is correct, it will be prima facie evidence (but yet not proof) that the driver’s “second person” defense is both valid and too politically explosive for the courts to consider.
If a similar defense were used in other courts, and those courts reacted as the California driver predicts will happen in his HOV lane case, we’d have good evidence that: 1) any HOV ticket might be defeated by the presence of a corporate charter or even a drivers license in car when the ticket is issued; and, more importantly, 2) that the all-upper-case name really does signify a “person” other than that of the natural man with a proper name like “Alfred Adask”.
If it turns out that the all-upper-case name on the drivers license is a second “person,” what about the all-upper-case names on the registration and insurance documents? Is it possible that presence of each such document provides separate evidence of the presence of a “second” (even third) “person”/passenger in the vehicle?
The HOV lane may turn out to be a perfect laboratory for testing the all-upper-case name vs. proper name hypothesis.