Friday, January 18, 2013

Carpools 2 or more only - Corporations OK?


The California Vehicle Code should specifically state that a vehicle occupant for carpool is a born, bodily, living human being.

Once again, loopholes in written law are being exploited at the expense of vehicle registration taxpayers and law abiding freeway motorists. San Rafael political activist Jonathan Frieman has a problem with corporations being defined as persons, but his campaign involves exploiting a loophole in the California Vehicle Code combined with citing the opinion of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. His intent is to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court case.

Frieman traveled solo with corporate paperwork in Bay Area carpool lanes purposely trying to get caught by the CHP so he can get his case through the court system. Citing both CVC 470 and the opinion of the Citizens United case, he frivolously argues that a corporation can count as a passenger to satisfy the occupancy requirement to travel in a 2+ carpool lane. As unusual as it sounds, Frieman actually hopes to keep losing through the court system so he can appeal the corporate personhood case back to the U.S. Supreme Court. He recently lost at the Superior Court level and has planned to appeal.

The Transit Coalition does not take sides on any political matters that do not relate to transportation. However, the state legislature must close the claimed loophole in the California Vehicle Code immediately. Even though Frieman hopes to lose his case throughout the appeals process, should a judge at any level decide to rule in Frieman’s favor, HOV lanes as we know it could be in dire trouble statewide. The legislature needs to write into law who a vehicle occupant is in the California Vehicle Code: a born, bodily, and living human being.

Robust debates in a free democracy are welcome and if Frieman has a solid argument against Citizens United, he should take action. However, exploiting California Vehicle Code loopholes and being a carpool cheater to advance agendas through the courts does nothing to get Southern California moving. And if the CHP took as long as Frieman claimed to catch him driving alone in an HOV lane, lawmakers might as well increase the carpool violation penalty and increase CHP enforcement to better deter carpool cheating. Set the base statewide fine to at least $500 and make it a one-point moving violation.

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