May 6, 2015

The High Occupancy Vehicle lane, better known as the carpool lane or HOV lane, was designed to “relieve traffic congestion … conserve fuel and lessen emission of air pollutants.” The state requires that vehicles using the lane have two or more individuals inside or are “qualified clean alternative fuel vehicles.”

That doesn’t mean that all solo drivers can resist using the HOV lane to avoid traffic, even though they risk expensive fines. To circumvent these fines, some drivers get creative. For instance, a driver recently was pulled over because he had a suspicious passenger on board. The driver had a cardboard cutout of “The Most Interesting Man in the World” from the Dos Equis beer commercials sitting in the passenger seat. 1

California Carpool Lane Violations (California Vehicle Code Section 21655.5)

Some drivers believe it is worth it to risk getting a ticket for driving in the HOV lane when faced with heavy traffic. However, that is not true. In California, if you violate California Vehicle Code Section 21655.5 by driving illegally in the carpool lane, you face expensive fines. Your punishment will be a minimum fine of $481, including fees and penalty assessments.

Who Can Use the HOV Lane?

The HOV lane has many purposes besides being used to transport vehicles with multiple passengers. Motorcyclists can use the HOV lane even if they do not have a passenger, and car 4Mass Transit Vehicles and Paratransit Vehicles can use the lane so long as they are clearly marked as such on all sides. 2

Additionally, drivers of vehicles that display a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker can also travel in the HOV lane even if they do not have any passengers on board. To qualify for a White Clean Air Vehicle sticker, your vehicle must be a Federal Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEV).

Generally, these types of vehicles include compressed natural gas vehicles and 100 percent battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Green Clean Air Vehicle stickers are available to Transitional Zero Emission Vehicles (TZEV) and to Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicles (AT PZEV). 3

Wallin & Klarich Can Help You with Your Traffic Violation Case

If you have been cited for a California traffic violation, you should speak to an experienced traffic attorney immediately. Our traffic attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience fighting for our clients’ rights. Our attorneys have successfully handled many cases in traffic courts, and we are familiar with the laws, judges and procedures of those traffic courts. Our attorneys will fight to help you obtain the best result possible in your traffic matter.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich California traffic attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. [http://www.myfoxla.com/story/28611093/washington-man-pulled-over-in-failed-carpool-lane-ruse]
2. [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=21655.5.]
3. [http://arbis.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm#vehicles]

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Author: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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