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HOV-Decal ProgramThe CA Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) and High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Decal Program Explained

The State of California allows Caltrans to designate certain lanes on its highways as High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. This measure authorized by CA Senate Bill SB 286, Vehicles: High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes, was initially passed to encourage carpooling. AB 266 with the same name, extends some HOV utilization for CAVs until 1 January 2019, or until banned by the Secretary of State. However, the HOV decal program is administered by the DMV with input from the Air Resources Board (ARB).

Yellow CAV Decal Requirements

The HOV decal program no longer authorizes the yellow decal use, nor is the use of the HOV lane authorized without two or more occupants. Vehicles in this class may no longer qualify for a CAV sticker. Check the ARB vehicle qualification list here.

Green CAV Decal Requirements

The green CAV sticker was authorized initially for 40,000 leased or purchased transitional zero emission vehicles (TZEV). Subsequent increases approved 15,000 additional vehicles several times under SB 853, AB 2013, and AB 95. However, SB 838, effective 13 September 2016, eliminated the mandated number of authorized stickers. SB 286 extends the use of the green decal until 1 January 2019, or until such time the Federal government extends or cancels the program. To check for vehicles authorized by the green decal see the ARB table on ARB.CA.GOV.

White CAV Decal Requirements

SB 286 also extends the use of white stickers through 1 January 2019. This decal applies to mainly emission-free vehicles, electric, hydrogen, or natural gas certified vehicles. The table on the ARB website also lists these vehicles.

Not All Vehicles Qualify

To qualify for a decal, the vehicle must:

● Meet CA tailpipe zero evaporative emission standards

● Carry a 15 year/150,000-mile emission system warranty

● Carry a 10 year/150,000-mile warranty for the zero-emissions storage system

Additionally, electric “neighborhood” vehicles such as the Think! and the GEM EV are not authorized for use on roadways with a posted speed limit of more than 35 mph. Therefore, these vehicles are not permitted on freeways and are not authorized a sticker under the HOV Decal Program.

If you have a decal on one vehicle, you are not authorized to transfer it to another vehicle, you must reapply. The same is true if you buy a previously-owned qualified vehicle, you must apply to have the name changed to yours.

Using the HOV Lane on I-405, “the 405” and I-5

High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane violations are a common occurrence in the Los Angeles area. The CA Vehicle Code (CVC) requires two or more vehicle human occupants, not pets, with the exception of CAV vehicles, which waives the occupancy number for vehicles with a white or green sticker. This two-person occupancy applies to all vehicles including motorcycles.

Usually, a lane violation ticket is a moving violation assessed one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point by the DMV. Illegal use of the HOV lane by unauthorized vehicles is a non-moving violation, unless the driver crosses the double-yellow line to move into or out of the HOV lane. Crossing the double-yellow is a one-point penalty if convicted for this infraction. One occupant vehicle drivers cited for an HOV lane violation face a fine of $480-500.

Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Los Angeles

Although more than 90 percent of drivers ticketed for driving in the HOV lane just pay the fine, when you feel you did not violate the HOV Decal Program, you should consult an attorney. There are many rule changes and amendments to the CVC that traffic ticket lawyers are aware of that could get a dismissal of your charges.

Bigger & Harman practice only traffic ticket law and represent clients in Los Angeles, SLO, and Riverside along with all Central Valley counties. If you receive a traffic ticket, Bigger & Harman are the traffic ticket defense team you need to get your ticket squashed. If it is possible; they will get it done. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300 to set up an appointment for a consultation. You might also wish to send them an email with a scanned copy of your ticket and the details,

Se habla Español 661.349.9755.


CA Senate Bill SB 286, Vehicles: High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes

CA Assembly Bill AB 266, Vehicles: High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes

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