For those who drive on the Long Island Expressway during rush hour, it’s not uncommon to watch with envy as vehicles in the HOV lane wiz by bumper-to-bumper traffic in the other three lanes.
Here are seven Long Islanders that didn’t have anyone to carpool with, but were determined not to sit in the LIE’s infamously awful traffic, even if it meant getting a traffic ticket and paying a fine.
7. THE MASKED HEAD REST
Long Island’s latest addition to the HOV dummy club is 20-year-old Justin Kunis of Lake Grove, who Suffolk County police summonsed after he was pulled over for allegedly driving with a drama mask attached to his front passenger seat head rest in the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway in Commack at 7:15 p.m. on June 2, 2021. A Highway Patrol officer became suspicious of the front passenger of a 2017 Nissan sedan in the HOV lane near exit 52. Police said Kunis had attached the mask to the front passenger headrest in an attempt to make it look like a passenger was in the vehicle. He was issued a summons for the HOV occupancy violation.
6. THE MANN-EQUIN
Suffolk County police summonsed James Britt, 34, of Centereach, for driving with a phony passenger in the HOV lane on the eastbound Long Island Expressway near exit 51 in Dix Hills at 4 p.m. May 6, 2019. A Highway Patrol Officer stopped Britt after the officer became suspicious of the front seat passenger in a 2002 Saturn sedan traveling in the HOV lane. The officer found Britt allegedly pulled over the vehicle and observed that the driver, had allegedly placed a mannequin wearing a sweatshirt, sunglasses, hat and jeans into the front passenger seat in an attempt to resemble a person, police said. Britt was issued a summons for the HOV occupancy violations.
- CLOTHES-PILE PASSENGER
Putting in the least amount of effort into creating a fake passenger was Candace Breen-Warren, of Miller Place. Suffolk County police said she had piled clothing, topped by a baseball hat, and a briefcase in the passenger seat in an attempt to resemble a person. A highway patrolman spotted the phony passenger while she was driving her Subaru Outback in the HOV lane near Exit 51 in Dix Hills at 8:15 a.m. July 21, 2016, police said.
- WOODEN SIDEKICK
Getting crafty with his fake passenger was James Campbell, of Brentwood, who Suffolk police said had a wooden figure wearing a hooded sweatshirt in the passenger seat of his pickup truck in the HOV lane near Exit 51 at 6:30 a.m. Feb.27, 2015. The driver told the officer that he was driving to a new job and did not want to be late, police said.
- THE LADY MANNEQUIN
While more believable than other fakes, K.A. Frascinella, of Mount Sinai, was pulled over while trying to pass off a life-size mannequin as her passenger in order to use the HOV lane on Feb. 2, 2010, the Suffolk Sheriff’s office said. A deputy sheriff became suspicious after viewing the passenger wearing sunglasses and using the visor on a cloudy morning. Closer inspection revealed a female mannequin fully dressed with a long dark wig, blazer, shirt and scarf.
- THE CPR DUMMY
Suffolk County Highway Patrol officer monitoring traffic on the LIE noticed a vehicle traveling in the HOV lane with an odd-looking front seat passenger whose head appeared to be tilted in an unnatural position at 8:36 a.m. Feb. 23, 2007, police said. Upon stopping the vehicle, the officer found the passenger was actually a CPR practice mannequin with black hair, mustache and wearing a brown jacket. The driver, Timothy Tietjen, of Middle Island, said that he was just trying to get to work and he had gotten away with it for five months. Tietjen also had a baseball cap and sunglasses that he sometimes put on the mannequin, police said.
- THE BABY DOLL
Not long after the first stretch of the LIE’s HOV lane opened in 1994, Amelian Wolff, of Selden, was stopped after Suffolk police caught her driving with a doll with a pacifier in its mouth in a car seat while she was driving in the HOV lane in Dix Hills at 5 p.m. May 25, 1994, Newsday reported at the time. The woman reportedly “said she just wanted to get home.” A photo of the doll was not available.