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Driver used realistic mannequin to sneak into carpool lanes for more than year, CHP says

Posted at 3:39 PM, Apr 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 18:39:56-04

A California driver who said he had used a mannequin as his passenger for at least a year and a half in order to access carpool lanes has been cited and faces a fine of at least $400.

The mannequin — adorned with gray hair, wrinkles, glasses, a Cleveland Indians baseball hat and a face mask — sat in the passenger seat of the driver’s Toyota Tacoma when he was pulled over on Feb. 19.

Officer S. Sullinger was patrolling the eastbound 210 freeway in Glendora in search of carpool violators.

The officer noticed the front passenger in the Toyota was suspicious and that the vehicle had tinted windows on its front passenger side, which is illegal.

Sullinger realized the passenger was fake when the driver rolled down his window.

“The driver didn’t say much,” California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said to the Los Angeles Daily News on Friday. “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 infraction but the mannequin was not confiscated. There is no additional punishment for trying to dupe officers by placing a mannequin in the passenger seat, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Drivers will attempt to use mannequins, a bundle of blankets or even a small doll to make it look like another person is in the vehicle, Jimenez said.

This mannequin, though, was the most realistic attempt at carpool lane deception Jimenez and Sullinger said they had 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.”