The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently announced that effective September 30, based on a federal law which applies nationwide, most hybrid vehicles will no longer be able to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes without the required number of occupants. Only hybrid plug-in electric vehicles will continue to be allowed access to HOV lanes without the requisite number of occupants.
The rule applies to all hybrid vehicles even if the vehicle displays a clean special fuel license plate. Other alternative fuel vehicles with clean special fuel plates will continue to have HOV access.
The change affects over 16,000 Virginians with registered vehicles bearing the clean special fuel license plates. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and VDOT are sending letters announcing the change to all residents with registered vehicles with the special license plate designation.
The new rules come as a result of the expiration of certain provisions in federal law (23 USC § 166) beginning September 30, 2019, that withdraw the eligibility of hybrid vehicles to use HOV lanes on any road, highway or interstate in the Commonwealth, unless the required number of occupants are in the vehicle. In accordance with federal law, HOV lanes may continue to be used by alternative fuel motor vehicles.
For more information, visit VDOT at https://www.virginiadot.org/travel/hov-rulesfaq.asp.