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I was curious about this and never knew the right answer, though I suspected it was okay to use the car pool lanes w/ a child in a car seat... The following is from http://www.chp.ca.gov

I'm pregnant. The HOV lane requires two persons in a vehicle. Now that I'm eating for two, can I use this lane?
California law requires that in order to utilize the HOV lane, there must be two (or, if posted, three) separate individuals occupying seats in a vehicle. Until your "passenger" is capable of riding in his or her own seat, you cannot count them.
 

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You can absolutely use the carpool lanes if you have a child in a car seat. As for the lady who was pregnant, well she is/was out of luck.
 
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