DMV News Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASETuesday, May 24, 2011
HOV Exemption Extended for Cars with Clean Special Fuel Plates
Third Plate Design Introduced With More NoVa Restrictions
RICHMOND - The Virginia General Assembly approved a one-year extension on the HOV-lane exemption through June 30, 2012, so vehicles registered with clean special fuel license plates may continue to use certain High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of passengers.
During HOV-restricted periods, HOV-2 lanes require a minimum of two people per passenger vehicle and HOV-3 lanes require a minimum of three. During all other times, HOV lanes are open to all passenger vehicles, except when the reversible lanes are closed.
Clean special fuels license plates have become increasingly popular for hybrid vehicle owners taking advantage of HOV-lane exemptions, especially in northern Virginia. Virginia law will further limit HOV exemptions for hybrid vehicles through the creation of a new clean special fuel license plate for qualifying vehicles registered on or after July 1, 2011. The new plate has a different design than the other two clean special fuel plates to assist Virginia State Police and local authorities with enforcement of HOV restrictions.
Qualifying vehicles registered on or after July 1 this year will get clean special fuel plates with the Earth symbol in the center. Vehicles bearing this plate are exempt from occupancy requirements on HOV lanes throughout the state except for the I-95/395 corridor and I-66 HOV lanes.
Vehicles displaying clean special fuel plates with the Earth symbol on the left side, registered before July 1, 2006, may travel on any open HOV lane at any time. Vehicles displaying clean fuel plates with the Earth symbol on the right side (registered July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2011) are exempt from occupancy requirements on HOV lanes throughout the state except for the I-95/395 corridor.
The annual fee for clean special fuel license plates is $25. DMV distributes $15 of each qualifying plate sale to the Virginia State Police HOV Enforcement Fund. The fines for driving in HOV lanes without the required number of occupants in northern Virginia are:
- $125 for the first violation
- $250 for a second violation within five years
- $500 for a third offense within five years
- $1,000 for a fourth or subsequent offense within five years
- three demerit points are assessed on a violator's driving record for second or subsequent offenses occurring in northern Virginia
For HOV violations in other parts of Virginia, the fine is $100.
For a vehicle to qualify for a clean special fuel license plate, it must be exclusively powered by clean special fuel. Compressed natural gas, electricity, ethane, hybrid gasoline/electric, hydrogen, hythane, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, methane, solar or a combination of two of these fuels may qualify a vehicle for clean special fuel plates. Not all hybrids are eligible for the plates. For example, flexible fuel vehicle engines that do not utilize only a clean special fuel do not qualify.
Visit www.dmvNOW.com for a list of qualifying vehicles and for more information on applying for clean special fuel license plates.