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Riding Along With Virginia State Police

by ARLnow.com June 14, 2011 at 7:57 am 4,546 22 Comments

We’re riding along with Virginia State Police this morning as law enforcement agencies region-wide conduct a “Capitol Region HOV Awareness Day” mass enforcement operation.

So far drivers on I-395 have been well-behaved — we’ve only seen two HOV violators in the past hour and a half.

That will likely change, we’re told, as the commute goes on. Typically, more drivers will try to test their luck near the end of the morning rush hour.

The most surprising observation so far? The number of hybrid and clean fuel vehicles on the road. Such vehicles, with clean special fuel license plates issued before July 1, 2006, are exempt from HOV rules on I-395 and I-95. Hybrid drivers, it seems, take full advantage of that exemption.

  • OK45

    This should be known as “Capitol Region Revenue Upkeep Day”. I wonder how many dime bags were sold in the capitol region during the time that these heinous HOV violators were being cited for their reckless disregard of the traffic code.

  • MC 703

    Ahh yes the old “shouldn’t you be out fighting real crime” argument.

    And shouldn’t the person who gets a marijuana ticket say “Go find a murderer”?

    • OK45

      slight difference in motoring violations and a murder or a drug sale, dontchathink?

      I don’t have a problem with enforcing intelligent traffic code (changing lanes without signaling, running red lights, etc) but having a push to enforce a debatably effective traffic law and taking officers away from other areas in order to do it is a pretty ineffective use of police resources. I see 15 actual dangerous traffic violations in my 1.5 mile commute everyday and nothing gets done about them (and I drive commute through Court House!) yet the time and energy can be found to enforce the HOV law. It’s a matter of common sense, start putting energy towards the crimes that actually pose a threat and then work your way down the totem pole.

      • Josh

        I sense that someone didn’t meet the HOV restriction today… 😉

      • MC 703

        Of course it’s different. But you brought up the dime bags, not me.

        HOV lanes do a great job of reducing the number of cars on the road and not enforcing them makes traffic worse for everyone by reducing their effectiveness.

        Plus it’s aggravating as hell to be sitting on SB 95 on a Friday night at 5PM and watching all the people go by in the HOV by themselves.

      • Dave

        The real question is, why are you driving a 1.5-mile commute through the heart one of the most walkable areas in the country? And on a spectacular day like today?

        • MC 703

          +1000 interwebs

          • MC 703

            I would trade my left ventricle for this commute over my new nightmare commute to Ashburn.

      • doodly

        You DRIVE 1.5 miles?

        That’s about how far I go just to get to my Metro station, and I never ever drive there. Take a bus or Metro, ride a bike, or walk. That’s common sense.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          Ever consider he / she might have kids to drop off somewhere?

  • Chris

    I think all the publicity kept the violations down. The ride into work on the non-HOV lanes on the 14th Street bridge were beyond packed.

  • Jack

    Agree with Chris – the publicity is not helpful ahead of time. Invite the reporters along and tell them to embargo their stories till 6 pm. Then you get the effect, the long term impact, and yes….the revenue.

  • Southeast Jerome

    Where does the HOV rule on 66-East end?

    The DOT website states that it ends at the bridge. So if you take GW parkway then exit onto the T.R. Bridge, you are OK.

    What if you take Route 29 and instead of taking the Key Bridge, you go straight following signs for the Roosevelt Bridge…..Is that 200 yard stretch considered HOV still?

    If it is, that must be impossible to enforce unless they have police sitting on the on ramp, cuz about 25 seconds after you are on there, you merge with GW Parkway drivers (non-HOV).

    Anyone know?

    • charlie

      good question.
      In fact, if you enter EASTBOUND I-66 at US 29 in Rosslyn and you are NOT HOV… you WERE breaking the law. But Arlington did give/get an exemption and you are allowed to enter.

      It used to be fun, back in the day, when ACPD would start doling out tickets on that entrance ramp. that portion of I-66 had been there long before the rest was built and everyone just assumed it was there’s forever.

      I suspect the same waiver was given for the Parkway, or maybe HOV only is in Virginia?

  • BishopofSouthArlington

    While I am against revenue hunts by the police, there is a small unknown caveat about HOV violation fines. A large percentage of the monies collected as fines goes to a state fund to purchase child safety seats for under privileged families. Additionally, the funds are used to train the police who install the safety seats free of charge on the weekends. (It is a designated date, check with the local PD beforehand, don’t just show up on the weekend looking for a seat installed)

    Feel free to check the DMV website for verification. Sometimes things are always as they appear!

    The fine is also a civil penalty. No points against the license etc.

    • Westover

      There is only no points on the first violation, they add up fast after that first violation, although after five years the violation count starts over.

      Northern Virginia HOV Lane Fines: First offense: $125
      Second offense: $250 plus 3 points on your driving record
      Third offense: $500 plus 3 points on your driving record
      Fourth offense: $1,000 plus 3 points on your driving record

      • MC 703

        So you can wrack up $1865 in fines in four days plus insurance increases, or you can spend another $1K and buy a good used motorcycle and ride the HOV lanes. Plus bikes are neat.

        • Westover

          Yeah, but you have to convince your mom or wife to let you have one…. It was easier to go off to war than to get a motorcycle at my house….

  • bipin

    I appreciate what the police are doing on the HOV, great job. But law is not only for normal cars. Stay on 66 and in every 5 min there is an unmarked police car with maryland or district plates, riding single on HOV lanes. I guess they are not exempt from HOV neither they are not on duty or call, it is just cops favoring cops. Those on unmarked cars are going to work in Maryland or DC and not on duty. This morning I was passing the checkpoint where there were about a dozen police, and this unmarked car( single rider) comes behind me lowers his visor to show he had police lights and goes on nice and smooth. Somebody should put their eyes on this problem. Next time I see any I will try to get some pics or even a video.

    • Didn’t you get the memo?

      If a cop does it, that means it’s legal.

      (For the dense among us, that was sarcasm.)

    • Westover

      Look at number 4, the Law Enforcement Vehicles are exempt. They are within the rules. Now why fire department members are not exempt is another question.

      Exceptions to the rules

      1. Motorcycles are permitted to use HOV lanes throughout Virginia during HOV hours.

      2. Motorists traveling to and from Dulles International Airport on business are permitted to use I-66 inside the Beltway during HOV hours.

      3. Vehicles powered exclusively by clean special fuel (including hybrid gasoline/electric, hydrogen, hythane, methane, compressed natural gas, electricity, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, ethane, and solar energy) and registered with clean special fuel license plates are permitted to use HOV lanes. Not all hybrids qualify for clean fuel license plates. Motorists should check the DMV website for a complete list of eligible hybrids.

      4. Emergency vehicles (fire, ambulance, rescue) and [b] law enforcement vehicles are exempt. [/b] Public utility vehicles are permitted to use HOV lanes when responding to emergency calls.

      5. On most interstates in northern Virginia, trucks are permitted to use HOV lanes if they have the required number of people. Tractor trailer trucks are not permitted on the HOV lanes in the Hampton Roads area or on I-66 inside the Beltway at any time.

      6. Buses designed to transport sixteen or more passengers, including the driver.

      7. Taxicabs with two or more people, including the driver, are permitted.

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