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Want To Drive Your Green Car In CA HOV Lanes? Here’s How

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If you live in California, you’ll know that buying a green car can come with impressive perks, including purchase rebates of up to $2,500 and access to the state's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. 

But you can't just start driving in the HOV lanes if you own a qualifying electric, hydrogen, compressed liquid gas (CNG), liquified petroleum gas (LPG), or plug-in hybrid car. You'll need to apply for an HOV-lane sticker first.

Here’s how, courtesy of the Californian DMV and this neat video from General Motors designed to help owners of qualifying 2012 Chevrolet Volts fitted with low-emissions packages simplify the form-filling process. 

Part 1: Check your car qualifies

The first step in the HOV-lane sticker application process is to check if your car is eligible for an appropriate HOV-lane sticker, as not all green cars automatically qualify.

To do that, visit the Californian Air Resources Board’s HOV-lane page, which details all vehicles currently eligible for an HOV-lane sticker, along with their exhaust standard category.  

Make a note of which category your vehicle fits into, as you’ll need that later on.

Chevy Volt owners note: Not all Chevrolet Volts are eligible for HOV-lane access.  To check if your car has the low-emissions package needed to qualify, look for an E, F, G, or H in the fifth position of your car’s Vehicle Identification Number.  Stand in front of your car and look for the little rectangular opening in the blackout surround on the lower part of the windshield that lets you view the VIN tag on the dash top to read the fifth position character. 

DMV REG 1000

DMV REG 1000

Enlarge Photo

Step 2: Fill out form REG1000

After you’ve checked your car is eligible, head over to the Californian DMV website to file and print out the Application for Clean Air Vehicle Decals REG 1000 form

The form itself is self-explanatory, and comes in six parts. You can either print it as a blank sheet and then fill it in, or use an appropriate Portable Document Format (PDF) program to enter relevant information before printing.

  • Section A asks you to fill out personal information.
  • Section B asks you what decal you are applying for. In order to file this correctly, you’ll need the vehicle exhaust standard category you wrote down in part 1. 
  • Section C, D, and E are only required if you’re applying for replacement decals. 
  • Section F should be signed and dated by all applicants. Make sure before signing that everything you’ve written is correct. 
Step 3: Mail the application

After you’ve completed the form, signed it and written the $8 check or money order processing fee, you can take the completed forms down to any local Californian DMV. 

However, if you’re not a fan of waiting in line, you can also mail it in the post, making sure you send it to:

Department of Motor Vehicles

Special Processing Unit -MS D238

P.O. Box 932345, Sacramento, CA 94232-3450

Tesla Roadster with CA Clean Air Vehicle sticker -- flickr user jurvetson

Tesla Roadster with CA Clean Air Vehicle sticker -- flickr user jurvetson

Enlarge Photo

Step 4: Wait, and drive

Most applications will be processed within 30 days of receipt, although you should note that California currently has a 40,000 cap on the total number of Green (not white) HOV-lane stickers it issues. 

At the time of writing, that limit has not yet been reached. 

Your stickers should the arrive in the mail, and should be placed on your car on the rear quarter panel or lower plastic bumper cover,  behind the rear wheel. You’ll need to place one sticker on either side of the car. 

With your HOV-lane access stickers correctly placed on your green car, you should now be free to use the HOV-lanes. 

Enjoy!

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Comments (5)
  1. What I don't understand is why the Plug-In-Prius qualifies. The PiP will be running its ICE engine 95% of the time it is in the HOV lane.
     
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  2. B/c CARB kiss up to Toyota.
     
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  3. or make friends with the car beside you in peak hour and offer to carpool. next week.
     
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  4. I thought HOV lanes were meant to reduce the number of cars on the road by forcing people to car-pool to use the HOV lane. If people are queuing up around the block to get their hands on hybrids/electrics as this website implies, then won't the HOV lane congest like the other lanes and defeat the purpose of its existence? Another poorly thought-out idea from your friendly neighborhood government.
     
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  5. @Randall: Ah, another angry jeremiad against that awful Gummint!

    The HOV-lane access stickers in CA are numerically capped, at a number which traffic engineers believe will not impede free traffic flow. As pretty much any California driver will tell you, during rush hour in the greater LA region and the SF Bay Area, the HOV lane moves far, far faster than the regular traffic lanes. Just ask.
     
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