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What's the fastest way to get busted in the carpool lane and garner an expensive traffic ticket while a passenger plays sidekick? Make that human, riding shotgun, a former one--or the likeness of one. Screw blow-up dolls. They're so passe. Throw a fake skeleton in your car to bypass violations en route to the daily grind. Then get a cop to snap a photo of the already-stupid scenario.
Apparently skeletons as passengers should up your 'badass' status with the women. If you don't believe it, just watch Bryan Stime's video interview with reporters. He's using his 15 minutes quickly. Apparently real men use skeletons to cheat carpool lane rules. Blow-up dolls are just so passe and creepy. Stime says he thought about blowup dolls. But skeletons are obviously way more manly. Carrying around a doll is just weird. But nothing screams 'I'm at the peak of my manhood' like carting around a cheap, plastic representation of a dead person in your car -- on a daily basis.
Bryan Stime drives just under a hundred miles to work each day, round-trip -- 45 miles for each leg of his trip. A cop cites "aggressive driving" as his reason for pulling over the Washington state driver who's accused of traveling at speeds of over 80 mph -- along with an unsafe lane change or two -- in December. It all happened right before Christmas, and it all involved a Halloween prop. Call it Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" with a twist.
Law enforcement discovered the carpool lane 'passenger' neatly clothed. Maybe he was destined for a gym, dressed in a white sweatshirt and tucked into the passenger seat of Bryan Stime's silver Mazda. It seems an appropriate choice. After all, a black suit and top hat would've been too over the top -- and a bit eerie. Only weird people would dress their skeletons in anything more than casual attire.
The Washington driver admits to breaking HOV carpool lane rules. Bryan Stime, as the accused, hasn't exactly been zipping his lip. Of course that fact rules out any possible court appearance related to battling the ticket and carpool violation fine. Stime might have tried a court defense along the lines of arguing that he did in fact have a human in the car. Kind of. It just wasn't a living and breathing one. Tickets have been won in court over crazier concepts.
Stime just used up his 15 minutes of fame -- and even paid for it too. The press exposure cost him about five hundred bucks. Total fine thus far: $454, the bulk of which is related to a speeding ticket fine and unsafe lane change charges. That (almost five hundred bucks) is the cost of a carpool related fine alone, across much of the nation -- at least the ones known to contain the nation's fastest-moving movers and shakers. Stime owes just $124 for his HOV violation.
Bryan Stime's been chatting away with the media, keeping that 'big fish in a small pond' kind of fame rolling. He says the hectic freeway commute had first sparked thoughts of a blow-up doll or mannequin to ride shotgun. A blow-up doll tends to run cheaper than the price of skeletal remains nowadays. But not cheaper than a fake Halloween prop. And that fake bag-of-bones became a regular commuter with Stime.
When he finally got caught, the driver says the officer told him "Congratulations" -- that he was going to have his picture taken. Stime says he thought that meant he was "headed downtown". Apparently the 'big fish' didn't realize that traffic violations don't equal a jail cell -- unless there's a warrant for arrest outstanding. The guy got to breathe easy when it turned out that the cop just wanted a snapshot of his commuter, not him.
Whether it was proof or for kicks, there seems to be a very popular photo floating around cyberspace right now. And it wasn't the skeleton that took the shot.
The cheap HOV fine is nearly as crazy as the unique 'buddy system' Stime's accused of abusing. Knowing the fine also makes the bizarre scenario suddenly seem a lot more sane. Traffic can make people feel crazy. And a Washington driver didn't have a lot to lose. If eliminating the stress of driving in rush-hour can be as cheap as a hundred bucks, the biggest mystery may be why more skeletons aren't seen riding shotgun.
The young driver says he's been using the bones for the daily commute, until busted in late December. He's not talking about how long he's been using the dead 'dummy'. But apparently he's no dummy. If Bryan Stime really was going faster than 80 mph like one cop claims, make no bones about it: Skeletons do add speed.
Most states consider it a serious violation to be breaking the law on the busy high occupancy vehicle corridor, otherwise known as the "HOV". Stime got off relatively easy. And it may be considered a pricey ticket across the nation -- but not so much in Washington. Everything's relative. While other states bust out expensive tickets in a range of three to four hundred dollars -- or even close to $500 for carpool lane violations -- this driver slid by with the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. And that makes it worthy of a repeat.
Of course the media's got to do its job. The press wants to make sure the nation understands this driver has obviously learned a hard-earned lesson. Pretty much every outlet across the nation is talking about this skeleton and its place back into that closet from which it came. He won't be doing it again, America. Only... wait a minute: There's not really an incentive for avoiding a repeat.
Remember -- this is the guy that went to all the trouble of not only acquiring the Halloween prop but dressing it to look like a human -- and doing the extras, including seat-belting the prop in place to avoid being caught or pulled over on a seat belt ticket -- all in efforts to effectively cheat the system. Let's see... another $124 to be shelled out down the line (if in fact the driver encountered the rare odds of being caught and busted again anytime soon) versus a headache-free, freely-moving drive without bumper-to-bumper traffic...
Unless that closet doubles as a Mazda, something says that skeleton's going to be seeing a lot more mileage before retirement.