How to Follow HOV Rules in California

HOV Lanes California

Living in California has a great deal of upside, with seemingly minimal faults. One of these few faults however, is the traffic. There are methods to combat this traffic, though, including the implementation of HOV lanes. Let’s take a look at California’s HOV rules, and how to correctly follow them in order to avoid carpool lane tickets.

The HOV California Law

HOV stands for “High Occupancy Vehicle.” HOV lanes allow certain vehicles to use a favorable highway lane to skip past dense traffic. These lanes have the purpose of lightening traffic congestion, and maximizing rider capacity for economic benefits, environmental reasons, and more. This makes the concept of ride-sharing a much more desirable practice. Which vehicles are allowed to use California HOV lanes? The eligible vehicles are:

  • Any vehicle holding 2 or more individuals (a few highways have a 3-person requirement)
  • Public transit vehicles such as busses
  • Motorcycles
  • Various plug-in hybrid vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and clean-air vehicles (with sticker—discussed later)

If none of these qualifications apply to you or your vehicle, it is in your best interest to stay away from the far-left lane. These HOV lanes will be identifiable by “white diamonds” painted on the pavement. There are often double lines between HOV lanes and normal lanes, which are unlawful to cross, even if you have more than 2 occupants in your vehicle.

Northern California and Southern California sport a few differences when it comes to HOV lanes. In Southern California, HOV lanes are usually separated by the double-line buffer, and are open to qualifying vehicles at all times. On the other hand, Northern California HOV lanes are typically only enforced for qualifying vehicles on weekdays during rush-hour times. This commonly refers to 6 am to 10 am, and 3 pm to 7 pm. Outside of these hours, HOV lanes are accessible to standard traffic types. Don’t worry—these hours will be posted on easy-to-spot signs along the highway. Keep in mind that Interstate 80 in the East Bay requires 3 or more occupants in a vehicle for HOV eligibility.

California Carpool Stickers

In January, 2019, a “sticker” initiative was amended in California. Essentially, the current rule is that if you drive a plug-in hybrid vehicle, alternative fuel vehicle, or clean-air vehicle, you have the ability to apply for a red or purple sticker that gives you the right to drive in an HOV California lane as a solo driver. These new stickers are relatively inexpensive, costing $22. The past white and green stickers are now outdated and invalid on California highways. Are you curious about the vehicles eligible for HOV California carpool stickers? Check out the full list here:

Got a Driving Solo in Carpool Lane Ticket?

California VC 21655.5 states that “A person shall not drive a vehicle described in subdivision (a) of Section 5205.5 with a single occupant upon a high-occupancy vehicle lane pursuant to this section unless the decal, label, or other identifier issued pursuant to Section 5205.5 is properly displayed on the vehicle, and the vehicle registration described in Section 5205.5 is with the vehicle.” The cost of this ticket type will vary based on additional county and city fees. It will also add 1 point to your DMV points total. The scary thing is that this one carpool infraction could end up costing more than $2700 over 3 years depending on your accumulated points and insurance hikes. Your best bet for getting out of a carpool ticket is to use a ticket dismissal service.

TicketBust Produces Results

Traffic tickets in California are expensive, plain and simple. However, it is possible to dismiss your ticket fully, and avoid the financial burdens that come with it. TicketBust helps you relinquish your ticket with no court involvement, no paperwork, and minimal waiting. If you find yourself with a carpool citation, be sure you looking out for breaches of traffic patrol policy. These instances can make a huge difference in dismissing your ticket. If you have any questions regarding the costs of carpool tickets or other traffic citations, do not hesitate to contact us.

TicketBust works in all these counties:


TicketBust is ready to fight your ticket from a desktop, laptop, or any mobile device.

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