‘No Vehicles in the Park’ is the basis of one of the great teaching texts for jurisprudence. HLA Hart famously asked,
A legal rule forbids you to take a vehicle into the public park. Plainly this forbids an automobile, but what about bicycles, roller skates, toy automobiles? What about airplanes? Are these, as we say, to be called “vehicles” for the purpose of the rule or not?’
Believe me, any law professor can fill two hours running hypotheticals off this. There us even the occasional real-life case.
Comes now, however, the Nevada Highway Patrol, in the person of Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka, who pulled over a vehicle in an HOV lane (not a park) that appeared to have only one occupant — only to be told by the driver that there was in fact another “occupant” in the vehicle: the corpse he was transporting. Trooper Smaka was unpersuaded, but he let the driver off with a warning. (See Police: No, a corpse doesn’t count toward the HOV lane passenger minimum for details.)
So, if the HOV rule is “minimum two occupants in the vehicle,” should a corpse count? Or, as my wife says, how about a pregnant woman in Alabama? If a fetus is a ‘person’ for manslaughter purposes, it is a person for HOV occupancy purposes? Or what about a telepresence robot being operated by some third party? Could that count?
Update: ‘Pearls Before Swine’ weighs in.