"Corporate Personhood" Not Enough to Evade Carpool Lane Ticket

Corporate personhood law cited in traffic violation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A North Bay man purposely drove alone in the carpool lane in hopes of getting a ticket. He says he hopes to make the legal point that a corporation is a person. Jean Elle reports. (Published Saturday, Jan 5, 2013)

    When is a person a person -- and when is a corporation a person?

    A Marin county self-described activist and "social entrepreneur" failed in his attempt to use the nation's "corporate personhood" laws to get out of a traffic ticket, but said that his efforts were true to their point.

    Point being, are corporations truly people too, if you can't buckle their safety belts and drive with them in the carpool lane on Highway 101?

    Jonathan Frieman, 56, has been driving in carpool lanes for 10 years with his family's charity foundations' legal papers of incorporation hoping to get pulled over, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

    The CHP obliged in October, and on Monday, Frieman argued his case before a judge, who seemed to take interest in the unusual argument before ruling against him.

    "Corporations have grown into large, huge, fictional entities," he told reporters before his hearing. "Now I am taking their power and using it in order to drive in the carpool."

    Much state and federal law has grappled with this issue, most recently and most controversially in 2010, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects corporations' ability to donate to political campaigns. That is the infamous "Citizens United" decision.

    Frieman's attorney pointed out that the California Vehicle Code defines people as "natural persons and corporations," the newspaper reported.

    Frieman says he will appeal the judge's ruling within 30 days. Could it be that the end of corporate personhood began on a Marin County highway?