Busted in the Carpool Lane – Even the Best Excuse is No Excuse

Highway Patrol ticketing motorist for driving solo in the carpool lane

We’ve all probably experienced carpool lane envy at one time or another when we’ve been driving alone. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and you’re on your way home from work, inching along in rush hour traffic at 5 mph. But, because you’re a lone wolf and not one of those carpooling types, or drive a low emission vehicle with a state-approved decal, which could mean a lower car insurance rate…you’re stuck where you sit. Or, are you?

Cars to your left are zipping past at 55 mph or more and the temptation to cross the double yellow line into the carpool lane grows with every bit of exhaust you breathe in. You start thinking of great excuses to tell the cop, just in case you get pulled over. Finally, throwing caution to the wind, you enter the expensive traffic ticket and higher car insurance zone.

You figure it’s worth the risk just to be moving again. Well, as luck would have it…a Highway Patrol cruiser pulls up behind you with flashing lights. Here’s your chance to try your “excuse” so you can tell the guys at the office how you got off with only a warning after getting busted in the carpool lane. Sadly, you’re about to find out that even the best excuse is no excuse.

Fines for driving alone in the HOV lane vary from state to state but, at last count, they can range from a low of 82 dollars to a high of 600 dollars or so with court surcharges. At the early beginning of carpool lanes, some creative motorists placed life-like mannequins in the front passenger seat to throw off passing police officers. Others used dolls to fill a child safety seat. The ideas worked for a while until the cops got wise.

Now, what about the sure-fire excuse you practiced in your head before taking the leap of faith over a double yellow line? We’re sure yours is the best of the bunch, but you may want to compare it with some of the excuses below – that won’t work – to see how yours rates.

•    “I have a medical condition – I’m on my way to the hospital.” (Yeah, sure!)
•    “I have to use the restroom – No, really, officer.” (Good luck with this one)
•    “I’m lost – my GPS told me to take the lane to the left.” (Good – but, a loser)
•    “What sign? – I’m not familiar with this freeway.” (Sign on the line – press hard)
•    “I thought this was the connector lane to the (fill in freeway).” (Has possibilities)
•    “Come on, officer – I wasn’t in it that long.” (Really expect that one to work?)
•    “I had a fight with my wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend and didn’t notice.” (Try counseling)
•    “I’m late for a casting call – Robert De Niro is waiting.” (No Oscar – But, good for a laugh)

Face it – your chances of getting off are fairly low. The good news – the citation in itself is not considered a moving violation. The bad news – you crossed over a double yellow to get into the HOV lane, and depending on the cop’s attitude, you could be facing an even higher fine for the double violation.

So, think before you do something that’ll cost you in more ways than one. You may even want to try carpooling with someone you like from the office. It’ll make the time go faster and keep your blood pressure down. In the end, make smart choices and avoid citations that can affect your driving record and your insurance premiums.

Another smart choice is making sure you’re getting the best rate on your car insurance. Why not get a free car insurance quote today?