What are the penalties for driving illegally in a carpool lane?
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On many state highways/freeways there are carpool lanes called "HOV" (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes. They are set apart from the other lanes on the highways by double yellow lines and are located to the far left of the other lanes. There are breaks in the double yellow line where a vehicle with more than one person in it can enter the lane. They are not allowed to leave the lane once the yellow lines become solid. Along with these carpool lanes are rules and regulations that govern their use. Therefore it is possible for a person to have a carpool violation.
Currently the lanes are made available to the public in an effort to promote carpooling, the theory being that more people sharing a vehicle will reduce the number of vehicles on the road, thereby reducing the traffic as well as the inherent air pollution that accompanies vehicle use. Because the goal is highly desirable, there are penalties attached to the violation of the laws that govern HOV lane use.
For a vehicle to be in the HOV lane there must be more than one occupant in the car. If a person is caught by an officer in the HOV lane without more than one person in the car, they can be given a citation. This citation is NOT considered a moving violation, but the fine is usually very steep. It can be in excess of $300. The amount varies from state to state. There would be no points added to their record.
It is possible for a car, in an attempt to avoid a collision with another car, to swerve into this lane. If they stay in the lane until the double yellow line breaks, allowing cars to enter the other lanes, they can be served with a citation for being in the lane without more than one person in the car. They would have to take the issue to court and explain the situation in order to avoid paying the fine. They would not, however, be given any points as it would not be considered a moving violation. If a person swerves into the lane to avoid a collision, then swerves back out of the HOV lane where the double yellow lines are in place, they could be cited for changing lanes inappropriately, and that would be a moving violation and points would be added to their record.