As a Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Attorney, I fight a lot of traffic tickets in Los Angeles traffic courts, some of which include “HOV lane” violations.
Many people like to drive in HOV lanes, and consequently, get traffic tickets because the driver is the only person in the car.
The specific vehicle code section discussing driving in the HOV lane in California is VC 21655.5(b).
What are HOV Lanes?
The HOV lane is the carpool lane. “HOV” stands for “High Occupancy Vehicle,” so if you’re driving in the HOV lane, you need two or more occupants in the car in order to lawfully drive in that lane.
In southern California, particularly in Los Angeles and Orange counties, traffic on the freeways is extremely dense. Thus, it’s very tempting to hop on over into the carpool lane, even when you’re the only occupant of your vehicle.
Is Driving in HOV Lanes a Moving Violation?
One of the main issues that arises with HOV lane traffic tickets is whether the offense is a moving violation.
The good news is that the answer is NO, driving in the HOV lane is not a moving violation. Thus, if convicted of the offense, you will not receive a point on your DMV record, so there is no need to go to traffic school to keep the point off of your DMV record.
However, crossing over a double yellow line IS a moving violation, so if you entered or exited the carpool lane by crossing over the double yellow line, you could be additionally cited with that charge and be looking at getting a point on your record, if convicted.
How Much is the Fine for Unlawfully Driving in HOV Lanes in California?
The minimum fine for driving in the HOV lane is $481. This can be higher depending on your specific circumstances.
Driving in HOV Lanes with a Failure to Appear
Many of my clients are not only fighting the carpool lane charge, but have an even stickier situation because they also have been cited with a failure to appear in court for not paying the citation or appearing in court to contest the ticket in a timely manner.
Through forgetfulness, changing residences, or mere inadvertence, a traffic ticket can very quickly become a much larger and costlier issue.
When you fail to appear on a Los Angeles traffic ticket in Los Angeles County, your traffic ticket will be referred to a collections agency called GC Services, and you’ll be directed to speak with them instead of the traffic clerk.
GC Services may send you threatening letters or call you to try and get you to pay your traffic ticket. However, you don’t want to pay GC Services if you don’t have to, because doing so can result in:
- paying excessive, needless fines
- an FTA charge appearing on your criminal background
- DMV points appearing on your DMV record, and/ or
- your license hold not being properly removed with the DMV.
When most people pay GC Services, they are doing so in order to get back their driver license.
But when you pay GC Services, you are pleading guilty to all charges on the traffic ticket, which has potential consequences on your criminal record, your DMV record, and on your bank account.
Handling your ticket in traffic court opens up many more options to you, including the ability to get back your driver’s license more affordably and without damaging your record.
Get Help with Your HOV Lane Violation and Failure to Appear
If you’d like to fight your HOV lane traffic ticket in traffic court, in most cases it doesn’t make sense to hire an attorney because the cost of paying the ticket is usually cheaper than hiring an attorney.
If you have failed to appear in addition to your HOV lane violation, or if you also crossed over a double yellow line and are not traffic school eligible, then it makes more sense to hire an attorney to get better overall results.
If you’d like a free consultation, text me at 949-973-6478.
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