HOV lane trip bears ticket

Vancouver woman gets busted for drive with stuffed animal

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

OK, so maybe it wasn't the best idea.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Vancouver resident and usual transit rider Scarlett Zibritovsky was in her car, stuck in northbound Interstate 5 traffic in Portland.

Zibritovsky's gaze shifted to the HOV lane on her left, then to the super-sized teddy bear riding shotgun on her right.

It was only moments later, now in the HOV lane, when the motorcycle cop swooped in.

Smarter than the average bear.

"He looked past the giant teddy bear's head (at me)," she said. "I'm sure he got a chuckle out of it."

She was caught. It was Zibritovsky's first traffic ticket -- to the tune of $260

-- for illegally driving in an HOV lane. But the 20-year-old swears it was the first time she tried to use her fuzzy friend to commit traffic fraud.

"One time I did take advantage of what you aren't supposed to do, and I got in trouble," Zibritovsky said.

The officer did get a laugh, she said.

He told her, "Hold on, this is too good not to get a picture" before snapping a photo of Zibritovsky and the scofflaw teddy she likes to call Zeff.

The rest of the world got a kick out of it, too. After KATU-TV ran the story on Zibritovsky's ticket on Friday, it went viral on the Web. As of Saturday afternoon, she was receiving messages to her Facebook account every 15 minutes from strangers from as far away as Italy, Australia and Sweden.

"They just say, 'Hey, that was so funny. Thanks for making my day,'" she said.

Zibritovsky said she likes driving around with Zeff, which she got as a present four years ago, because he's so cute. She plans to keep to bringing him along. But rest assured, area law enforcement, she said, "I will be sure not to use the HOV lane."

On Saturday afternoon, she said her brother was going to take Zeff for a ride on the back of his motorcycle -- and snap a photo riding in the HOV lane to post to Facebook. This time, it'll be legal; all motorcycles may use the HOV lane, no matter the number of passengers, stuffed or otherwise.

It's hard not to have fun with it, she said.

"I'm taking it with a smile."

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.