Drivers beware: Va. police conduct HOV crackdown on I-66

WASHINGTON — Drivers who break the rules on Interstate 66 Express Lanes will likely see flashing police lights in their mirrors Thursday, as the Virginia State police conduct a crackdown during the morning and afternoon hours.

Police will be targeting drivers who use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway between I-495 and Route 29 in Rosslyn.

“This effort is intended to bring HOV violators into compliance,” the state’s police department said in a statement.

Drivers who are traveling by themselves in the HOV lanes need an E-ZPass so they can pay the toll.

If a vehicle has two or more people inside, the lanes are free to use. However, in that case, drivers need to make sure they have an E-ZPass Flex that is switched to HOV-mode.

The I-66 Express Lanes inside the Beltway started operating in December of 2017.

They are toll lanes on weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. eastbound and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. westbound. They are free with no tolling or HOV requirements at all other times, including federal holidays.

“Any person in violation of the HOV rules is guilty of a traffic infraction,” said the Virginia State police. “Violations committed within this area on I-66 are punishable by fines including $125 for a first offense.”

A second offense can cost drivers $250 while a third and fourth can lead to $500 and $1,000 fines, respectively.

Police previously conducted a similar crackdown inside the Beltway a couple weeks ago, catching 32 HOV violators.

During that time, Michelle Holland with the Virginia Department of Transportation said that the police efforts were put in place to ensure “that our Express Lanes run smoothly and effectively for people who are following the rules.”

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