Position of Va. license plate graphic determines HOV rights

The three plates in question.

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

MANASSAS, Va. – There could be a few more cars in the main lanes of Interstate 66 after July 1. They will be hybrids.

A new state law, which takes effect that day, removes an exemption for hybrid cars registered after July 1, 2011, according to a DMV release. They will no longer be able to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-66 unless there are two people in the car. Hybrids registered before July 2011 will still be able to drive in the HOV 2 lanes with only one person in the car.

This change does not affect any HOV lanes on the Dulles Toll Road or interstates 95 or 395.

Hybrids are issued plates that say “Clean Special Fuel.”

The special plate with the Earth symbol in the center was issued to vehicles registered on or after July 1, 2011.

The plate with the symbol on the right was issued to qualifying vehicles registered between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2011. Vehicles registered with this plate are exempt from the occupancy requirements in HOV lanes except those located in the I-95/I-395 corridor.

The plate with the Earth symbol on the left was issued to qualifying vehicles registered before July 1, 2006. Vehicles registered with this license plate are exempt from occupancy requirements in all Virginia HOV lanes.

The new rules are sure to create some confusion, but Virginia State Police will ticket drivers in any event.

Under the rules, drivers who own a car that qualifies for the full exemption, can transfer plates to another qualified car.

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