Have you received an Improper Use of HOV Lane ticket? Our team of highly qualified Lawyers and Paralegals can help! Improper Use of HOV Lane under the Highway Traffic Act is a common charge issued in Ontario by the Ontario Provincial Police or MTO.
What is an HOV Lane?
An HOV lane, or “High Occupancy Vehicle” lane, is a designated lane for vehicles travelling with more than one occupant, or for specific types of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, buses, limousines, and taxi cabs. They are designed to reward carpooling and green vehicles by providing a lane with less traffic than the other lanes on the highway. HOV lanes are on the far-left side of the highway and are clearly marked by signs and pavement markings. Pavement markings include a diamond shape painted on the roadway, and a “buffer zone” marked by diagonal lines between solid lines. HOV lanes can be found on a number of 400 series highways, including Highway 400, Highway 401, Highway 403, Highway 404, Highway 417, Highway 417 and Highway 410.
Why Was I Charged for Improper Use of HOV Lane?
The most common reason a driver is charged for Improper Use of HOV Lane is for travelling with a single occupant in the vehicle in the HOV lane. The driver usually does this to avoid traffic congestion. You could also receive a ticket for changing to or from the HOV lane in a buffer zone. Since there are regulations for certain vehicles, tickets can also be issued to limousines or taxi cabs not bearing the proper Ministry issued license plate.
The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) Defines Improper Use of High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes as Follows:
Section 154.1 (3) of the Highway Traffic Act states:
“(1) Where a part of the King’s Highway has been divided into clearly marked lanes for traffic, the Minister may by regulation designate any lane as a high occupancy vehicle lane for that part of the King’s Highway and may make regulations,
- limiting the designation to specified months or times of the year, days, times, conditions or circumstances;
- limiting the use of high occupancy vehicle lanes to vehicles, or any class or type of vehicles, with a specified number of occupants, and prescribing conditions and circumstances for such use;
- regulating the use of high occupancy vehicle lanes, including prescribing rules of the road applicable to the use of the lanes, exemptions from any requirement in this Part or in a regulation made under this Part applicable to the use of the lanes and conditions and circumstances for such exemptions;
- providing for the erection of signs and the placing of markings to identify high occupancy vehicle lanes and the entry and exit points for high occupancy vehicle lanes; (d.1) providing for the posting of signs on any part of a highway designated as having a high occupancy vehicle lane that is in a construction zone designated under subsection 128 (8);
- prescribing the types of the signs and markings referred to in clause (d), instructions to be contained on them and the location of each type of sign and marking. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 25; 2019, c. 8, Sched. 1, s. 31 (1).
Construction zone (1.1) Where a construction zone designated under subsection 128 (8) includes a high occupancy vehicle lane or part of a high occupancy vehicle lane designated under subsection (1), the official authorized under subsection 128 (8) may authorize a temporary change of the commencement or end of the part of the high occupancy vehicle lane that is within the designated construction zone, and any such change shall not become effective until the highway or portion of it affected is signed in accordance with the regulations. 2019, c. 8, Sched. 1, s. 31 (2).
Regulation may be general, or specific (2) A regulation made under subsection (1) may be general or specific in its application and may apply differently to different classes or types of vehicles. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 25.
Offence (3) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a high occupancy vehicle lane or enter or exit a high occupancy vehicle lane except in accordance with this section and the regulations made under it. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 25.”
What Are the Penalties for an Improper Use of HOV Lane Ticket?
Generally, a conviction will result in three types of penalties: court penalties, license penalties, and insurance premium increases.
The set fine for an Improper Use of HOV Lane ticket is $85.00 plus a Victim Fine Surcharge of $25.00 for a total of $110.00. This fine amount will be indicated on the bottom of the ticket and represents the out-of-court settlement amount. An Improper Use of HOV Lane fine can be as high as $1,000.00 if it is issued on a Summons, or if the court finds there were aggravating circumstances, such as a collision, or if the driver has previous recent convictions for the same offence.
A conviction for an HOV Lane ticket carries 3 demerit points. Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers, such as transport truck drivers, will also receive 5 CVOR points upon conviction, which may hinder their ability to become or stay employed as a professional driver. Demerit points are kept on file with the Ministry of Transportation for two years from the date of offence. Accumulating as few as 6 demerit points can result in a license suspension, depending on the type of license the driver holds.
Insurance Premium Increases
If found guilty of Improper Use of HOV Lane, the charge will appear on your driving record and will be visible to your insurance company. Insurance companies will generally increase your insurance rate for a period of at least 3 years from the date they discover the conviction. The additional insurance premium usually exceeds the set fine amount on the traffic ticket by at least three times. Often, paying for legal services costs a driver less than what the insurance rate increase would have been if they had simply paid the ticket.