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What are HOV Lanes?

Posted Wednesday, May 1, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most know that HOV or high occupancy vehicle lanes are intended to help Washington drivers move through busy freeways. They are sections of roadways designated for carpools, transit vehicles, ride-shares, and motorcyclists. The goal of HOV lanes is to encourage drivers to reduce their solo trips by allowing users to zip past stalled freeway traffic while reducing the number of vehicles in backed up lanes.

HOV lanes generally fall into two categories

Standard HOV Lanes – Most standard HOV lanes are on the left, typically with diamond symbols painted on the pavement and a solid white line separating them from other lanes. The minimum amount of occupants can vary between 2+ or 3+ persons per vehicle, depending on the highway and time of day. Motorcycles may use all standard HOV lanes, as may law enforcement and emergency vehicles.

Express Toll Lanes and High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes

These special lanes give solo drivers the ability to pay for faster travel by purchasing a Good to Go! passes. Toll rates vary between 50 cents and $9 depending upon traffic flow conditions. Carpools, vanpools, buses, and motorcycles may use the lanes toll-free. Trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds aren’t allowed to use HOV lanes, although recreational vehicles of any weight may.

In Washington, violating an HOV rule is a traffic infraction under RCW 46.61.165. The courts treat these tickets like other moving violations, such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign or a speeding ticket.

What are the penalties of an HOV violation?

The current minimum fine for driving solo in a carpool lane in Washington is $136. An HOV violation is also a moving violation that will appear on your driving abstract if found committed and like all moving violations, it will remain on your driving record for three years.

If you have been cited for an HOV violation or any other traffic ticket, call me directly at 206-729-3477 and let’s discuss your matter.

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