Virginia Drivers Take Note: HOV Lane Hours Have Changed
July 9, 2014
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the hours of the reversible HOV lanes on Interstate 95/395 have changed. The HOV lanes for northbound traffic will close by 10 a.m. each weekday and reopen for southbound traffic by noon. VDOT said in a statement that it altered the hours to ease current traffic congestion on southbound I-95. Such traffic fluctuations are normal, as traffic patterns change with the seasons and an influx of tourists travelling through Virginia into the Metropolitan DC area.
VDOT says it doesn’t anticipate the time shift will cause any significant changes for daily commuters, but drivers must be aware that hours have changed and, therefore, adjust their schedules to avoid violating traffic laws and incurring costly tickets and fines. For example, a driver traveling in the HOV lane during active hours whose vehicle does not contain the correct number of passengers faces a fine of at least $125. A second offense within a period of five years will see that fine double to $250. A third offense within a period of five years will go up to $500 and fourth or subsequent offenses within that same time period can result in up to $1,000. While no driver demerit points will result from a first offense for a HOV violation, a driver convicted of second, third, fourth, or subsequent violations within a five year time period can receive up to three demerit points for each violation.
Though some drivers might not think a first-time violation is worth concern, it remains the start of what can prove to be a very complicated and costly issue. If you receive subsequent violations and earn enough points against your driver’s license, your driving privileges could be in jeopardy. In Virginia, if a driver acquires 18 demerit points in the span of one year, or 24 points in the span of two years, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend that license and may require the driver to enroll in and complete a driver improvement program. You can read more about that on the Virginia DMV website. For those who commute to work, or who rely on driving this stretch of the highway for familial or professional obligations, an HOV violation can create significant havoc.