OLYMPIA — It’s about to get more expensive for motorists sneaking into high occupancy vehicle lanes — some even using dummies to cheat the system.
A change in state law effective Sunday increases the existing fine and also adds a higher fine for repeat offenders. A new fine also kicks in for those who use a fake passenger in their vehicle. The new maximum fine will now be $536.
The state Legislature approved the changes during the past session. The changes apply to violations of HOV, high occupancy toll and express toll lane regulations.
The changes to the law include:
• Raising the initial violation fine from $136 to $186.
• Creating a $336 fine for a second and subsequent repeat violations within a two-year period.
• Adding a $200 fine for anyone caught trying to use a doll or dummy or other item to make it appear another person is in the vehicle. The $200 fine is in addition to the violation fine, creating a possible maximum fine of $536.
The new legislation states that those violating HOV lane requirements “frustrate the state’s congestion management, and justifiably incite indignation and anger among fellow transportation systems users.” Lawmakers described the escalating penalties as a “rebuke” to discourage repeat offenders.
HOV violators prevent HOV and other lanes from operating as intended to help traffic flow more freely, according to Washington Department of Transportation officials.
HOV violations are one of the top traffic complaints the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol receive, officials state. New signs will be posted along several state highways reminding travelers of the new maximum fines.
HOV violators can be reported to the WSDOT by calling 1-877-764-HERO.