I received the following email about HOV lanes in Arizona:
The fine for driving alone in the HOV lane is $619 with the court surcharge. It is eligible for diversion (defensive driving), but it will still cost a pretty penny. The actual fine is $354, but the court surcharge is mandated and not waived...the fine is $619 total. I started researching it after a girl I used to work with got pulled over for it (and rightfully so). She thought that just because she bought a hybrid, it meant she could drive in that lane. Didn't bother to register it with the state or try for the special tag or plate, even though it would have been denied because they've already reached the limit. Serves her right!
First of all, it is true that just because you own a hybrid vehicle, that doesn't mean you can legally use the HOV lane. At one time the MVD was issuing special plates to hybrid vehicle owners allowing access to the HOV lanes. Those 10,000 hybrid plates are long gone, there is no waiting list, and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) does not intend to add any more.
Now, on to the issue of the fine for the ticket. I am not able to verify that the total cost of a ticket for driving in the HOV lane without a driver and at least one passenger during stipulated time periods is $619. According to ADOT, the fine starts at $400 (2016). The Phoenix Municipal Court advises that if a person is eligible to take the defensive driving class to avoid fines and points on the license, then all that is required is the cost charged by the defensive driving school, typically from about $180 to $200 at this time.
If defensive driving class is not an option for whatever reason, there are additional fees that would bring the total fine to significantly more than $350. That amount may vary depending on what court handles the item.
According to ADOT, there are more than 190 miles of HOV lanes along Phoenix-area freeways.