Drivers getting creative when sneaking into carpool lanes is nothing new, and a California Highway Patrol officer thought he’d seen it all until last week, when an official said he pulled a driver over with the “most realistic dummy” sitting shotgun in a Toyota Tacoma.
The mannequin looked like an older man with gray hair and wrinkles on his face, wearing eyeglasses and a facemask, sitting in the passenger seat of the driver’s Toyota, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said in an interview Friday, Feb. 26. The dummy also had donned a Cleveland Indians baseball cap and had sunglasses tucked in the shirt’s front pocket.
Officer S. Sullinger was the one who found the realistic mannequin while patrolling the eastbound 210 freeway in Glendora, near the Grand Avenue exit, looking for potential carpool violators on Feb. 19, Jimenez said.
The officer noticed the front passenger in the Toyota looked a bit suspicious and that the vehicle had tinted windows on the front passenger side, which is illegal, Jimenez said. Sullinger pulled the driver over at around 4 p.m.
When the driver rolled his window down to talk to the officer, Sullinger realized the passenger was a fake.
“The driver didn’t say much,” Jimenez said. “Other than that he’s been driving with the mannequin and he’d been getting away with it for a year and a half.”
The driver was cited for the carpool violation and faces a fine of at least $400, according to Jimenez. The mannequin was not confiscated because the violation was an infraction, he said, and there is no additional fine or charge if a driver is attempting to dupe an officer with a dummy in a carpool lane.
Sometimes drivers will use a mannequin, with the seat rolled back or the dummy’s feet up on the dashboard to make it appear like a passenger is sleeping, Jimenez said. Jimenez, who has worked as a CHP officer for 13 years, said he’s also seen people use a bundle of blankets in a baby seat or even a small doll to make it look like a child is in the vehicle.
This was the most realistic instance that Jimenez, or Sullinger, has seen.
“I thought I’d seen them all, but I guess not,” Jimenez said. “This is something that’s straight out of the log ride at Knotts Berry Farm or Disneyland.”
Source: Orange County Register