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Judy Hedding

How Much is a Ticket For Driving in the HOV Lane?

By July 23, 2009

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I received the following email about HOV Lanes:
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. Refer to page 31.
Arizona HOV lanes
© Judy Hedding
This legislation did not pass, but it does show that 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! :)

The writer provides this information to me as an update to the civil penalty amount that I mention in my article about Maricopa County HOV lanes. 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. I first wrote about this in 2007. Those 10,000 hybrid plates are long gone, there is no waiting list, and no one at ADOT has mentioned to me that they intend to add any more.

Now, on to the issue of the fine for the ticket. I'm really not able to see where the two links provided support the conclusion 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. I called DPS who advised that in Maricopa County the fine is $370. 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 bring the total fine to about $415. That amount may vary by a few dollars here and there depending on what court handles the item.

Of course, I have no real case to provide the court and I was getting general answers to general questions. If anyone has any real-life specifics to share, please comment below.

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July 23, 2009 at 6:59 pm
(1) Arizona Insurance Pro says:

That is crazy. That is a lot for a ticket. Maybe this is why the economy is bad.

July 23, 2009 at 8:21 pm
(2) Dusty says:

Maybe it would be easier to obey the law concerning both the HOV lanes AND the speed limit. It works for me.☺

July 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(3) J says:

I’m not sure how one could argue that the links did not provide enough information. On page 31 of the document (go by page number, not what Adobe reader tells you is page 31), it specifically states “When the high fine was introduced in 2000 (at the time, $350), an additional 77 percent court surcharge brought the total to a hefty $619.

And the second link says the state legislature wanted to reduce the fine from $350 to $200, but also that “All civil penalties are subject to a surcharge of 77 percent resulting in a total assessment of $619 for an HOV citation.

The legislation did not pass, meaning that it was not reduced from $350 to $200. The surcharge is mandated by the courts. I can also confirm that the girl who received the ticket nearly spit out her drink when she was told the fine was, in fact, $619 because she had already done a diversion program less than two years prior.

Any way you cut it, it’s a pricey ticket that’s easily avoided. Now if only we could implore highway patrol to give tickets to those who don’t use turn signals…

July 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm
(4) Judy says:

Hi J,

I now see the paragraph to which you refer. I was looking at page 31 of the pdf, not page 31 of the document.

As you point out, the first link refers to a charge in 2000. The second link goes to a fact sheet from a 2001.

All I can tell you is what DPS and the Maricopa County Court tell me. Maybe someone else here can shed some more light.

You’re right, as is the other person who commented. The best bet is not to test it. Here’s one situation where I’m glad I have no first-hand experience to share!

October 9, 2009 at 1:44 am
(5) D says:

J, you originally wrote, “This legislation did not pass, but it does show that the fine is $619 total.” Uh, no. It shows that that was the fine in 2000.

Now on Page 39 of the study it says: “In 2002, the average penalty for HOV lane violations was $150 nationally.76 Arizona’s penalty was highest among survey respondents, at $365 for first and subsequent violations. When the high fine was introduced in 2000 (at the time, $350), an additional 77 percent court surcharge brought the total to a hefty $619.”

I just received a citation on Oct. 5, 2009 from a DPS officer for driving in the HOV lane on I-17 without a baby on board, and my citation says that one of my options is to “Admit guilt and pay the fine”. The table included shows that the fine for violating ARS 28-737A is $388. So I do have the option to pay that amount and make my contribution to help the state budget deficit, maybe the state can keep a freeway rest area open another day or so. But, I’m not going to. I’m going to pay a court fee of $65, state fees of $65, and a defensive driving school fee of $30; total $160, and I will never drive in an HOV lane again during rush hour. Instead I am taking surface streets to work (let’s face it, the inbound interstates are slow-moving parking lots during rush hour, at least in the common people’s lanes). Meanwhile all those 10,000 drivers with EE plates can take to their cars each morning and sail effortlessly down the privileged lane and be happy they could afford to pay $30,000+ to buy their way to the fast lane.

Meanwhile, I will at least enjoy a relaxing and reliable commute to work that actually only takes about 5 minutes more than the HOV lanes used to take, for the month that I used them (cost me an average of $8 a day).

Eventually AZ will smarten up and convert to HOT lanes, but it will take AZ awhile to catch up to more advanced states that are already doing this.

October 20, 2010 at 1:59 am
(6) MC says:

Here is the info from a first hand experience:

I got a ticket for driving on the HOV lane 2 days ago.

The officer told me right away that the fine was $380.00!! He also told me that if I was eligible to go to traffic school I could get away with paying only half or maybe even less. And suggested I check the online classes.

He gave me the ticket to sign, gave me my copy and sent me on my way.

After I got home I looked at the papers he gave me. Along with the citation he also gave me an envelope with name & addresses of all Maricopa County courtsAND A 3 way folded paper with information, including the options you have. Also included in the paper was the list of the most common violations #’s and the amt to pay for each one of them.

The 3rd most expensive was mine! 28-737A: $388.00!!

I decided to follow the advice of the “nice” officer and logged online to the address printed in the information sheet ( http://www.supreme.state.az.us/driveschoolinfo/ )

I found the link to the page that lists the schools that are accredited to do classes for Driving School for the Maricopa County:

I checked a few ones & compared prices, the one I chose seemed pretty easy to handle, you can actually do the class in 5 minute increments and a FREE same-day certificate processing!

After checking the costs, the total came out to $163.95 which includes:

$65.00 – Court Diversion Fee
$20.00 – State Fee
$45.00 – State Surcharge
$33.95 – Course Fee.

So to answer the original question, How much is a ticket for driving in the HOV lane in Phoenix AZ?

Well, that depends, if you are eligible for Driving School it could be around $160.00. Otherwise, you will have to pay the original fee of $388.00.

I hope this helps someone out there and I wish you the best of luck!


November 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm
(7) TIM says:


November 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm
(8) Nicole says:

Uh, Tim, you’ve got to be the retarded one here, lol! Do you reeeeallllly think people don’t do simple minded things the state can qualify through research and create hefty sums to boost the state treasury and line political and positional pockets? Come on! How naive can you be?!

If we all followed the laws, you’d have to pay even more taxes you kumquat, because the government has to make money somehow! At least this way, individual mistakes are paid for by the individual, the gov scores and the rest of us can breathe without being taxed to death for being human! Geez! Learn some math!

January 28, 2011 at 6:07 am
(9) Bob says:

All i can say is that don’t get accidentlly lost in phoenix and use your gps which told me to take a off ramp that was a HOV. I say this because the Justice system, Nor pig cops care about if you get lost they just need to fill the quota.

September 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm
(10) TJ says:

I just got a ticket this morning. I have been using the 3rd St Exit for 2 years. I have exited on 7th St and timed it in the past. It adds an extra 35 minutes to my commute. Not to mention the anxiety of trying to merge into the exit lane with the 80 other cars that are trying to get to the same lane at the same time. I have had 2 fender benders and many close calls on that exit. I have also taken the light rail, which adds an extra hour and a half and saves me only $8 a month in gas since it is not cheap. So my choices are to waste 3 hours of my day on my commute to work or risk my life and property daily. I find it ridiculous to put in an exit that no one is allowed to use. That doesn’t make me retarded. I am quite suprised it has taken me this long to get a ticket at all.
Now I am making it my mission to find out exactly what Phoenix does with the money they take in from traffic violations.

November 21, 2011 at 11:51 am
(11) J. says:

For a possible $160 ticket, it seems worth it to me to cut at least an hour per day off my commute. Arizona is very foolish in the way they manage the HOV lanes. I rarely see police on the freeway during rush hours unless they are attending to an accident. The state could make a lot more money by charging folks to drive in the HOV, I’m sure there would be a lot of takers.

November 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm
(12) Judy Hedding says:

Hi J.,

Just a few points of clarification/disagreement with your comments:

The ticket is only that price if you have no other violations, and, of course, you still have to pay for defensive driving school. If you don’t or are not eligible to attend, the ticket is more, and of course, the cost of your auto insurance may also rise.

While revenue generation is always important, and has been considered in the past in Arizona, the primary purpose for the HOV lanes here is to reduce emissions, which is required by the Federal Highway Administration and relates to our federal funding. They would have to approve any other use of the HOV lanes and they, in the past, have not.

In my experience, allowing people to pay their way into the HOV lanes would simply make them just as congested as the other lanes.

Finally, I often see highway patrol monitoring the HOV lanes, so I guess we travel on different roads!

November 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm
(13) J. says:

There are several things you are saying that don’t make any sense to me.
First, although I’m sure you’re correct about the insurance rates, what does a ticket for driving in the HOV lane have to do with defensive driving or my auto insurance? I am not creating any type of hazard with my driving, in fact, I probably am reducing emissions by not sitting at a dead stop idling my engine.
Second, unless you are supposing that people who normally drive surface streets will move to the highways, how could the amount of traffic increase if the HOV lanes were opened? There are a finite number of people going to work each day in the Phoenix metro area and that is not going to increase or decrease based on laws about who can use which roads. Even if there were a temporary influx from surface streets, drivers will gravitate toward whichever route will get them to work the quickest and it will eventually even out.

I’m sure I’ll be caught eventually but for now, it is worth the risk to me to have that extra hour per day to spend with my family.

November 22, 2011 at 10:53 am
(14) J. says:

Thought readers might find this food for thought


March 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm
(15) Josh says:

So I’m driving along in the HOV lane with a friend of mine going to work. SWOOP! This guy gets in the HOV lane at the last moment. Not only he cut me off but he doesn’t have the required amount of people in his vehicle. I told my friend, “Where is a cop when you need one!” Then from out of no where, I hear a siren. This guy got busted to our satisfaction because we have to deal with it every single day. Was it his fault for driving in the HOV lane? YES! Could the city provide better transportation? Yes they should. If they would put a train that follows the freeways I think there would be less traffic congestion and thus less people trying to skirt the law by jumping in the HOV lane to pass a couple cars.

July 10, 2012 at 11:55 am
(16) Liam says:

OR you can do the green thing and drive a natural gas vehicle, save about $1 per gallon on gas, and use the HOV lane legally. I had a guy fall in behind me last week in an SUV single occupied in the HOV lane, and rounding a corner on the 202, there was a cycle cop. I beeped my horn to make sure he was watching while the SUV tried (unsuccessfully) to cut back into the fast lane; I got to see the pull over in my rear view…LOL!

July 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm
(17) JD says:

a 615 dollar fine can economically harm the tax paying citizens of our community who have to support children, themselves and there family thus supporting the community around them. I don’t think it is the purpose of our governmner to economically harm tax paying citizens for committing non violent, victimless crimes.

July 12, 2012 at 6:40 pm
(18) Liam says:

OR you can avoid it altogether by not driving in the HOV lane when alone, much like you can avoid a DUI costing thousands in fines by not driving impaired…

August 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm
(19) tickedFirst time says:

unfortunately for me I was ticketed this morning… traffic was a little heavier than normal… people in front of me stopped suddenly and I to avoid a collision with their rear end moved to the carpool lane from which i could not get out because of the traffic but the exit to said lane was just a few yards ahead and was going to exit there when a CHP fought his way to the carpool lane almost hitting someone just to get to me and pull me over…she would not even allowed me to explain why i was in the carpool lane… I guess I avoided an accidents just to be hit over the head with a traffic ticket, perhaps I should have just rear ended the other person.. that might have been cheaper.

August 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm
(20) Judy Hedding says:

Hi tickedFirst time. Sorry that happened. Believe me, an accident would be worse – car rental, repairs, insurance rates — and if you hit the guy it would have been your fault, you would have been cited anyway, and you or someone else might have been hurt. If you truly believe that you were trying to get out and would have “in a few yards” (that’s about one second) you could always try going to court and fighting the ticket. Maybe you’d get lucky and the office wouldn’t show up! Of course, there’;s a cost to doing that as well, like loss of time at work and attorney fees.

November 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm
(21) pedro Himinez says:

Well, Like most of you I am looking this up because I either received a ticket or am planning on using the HOV illegally (LOL).

However, does it seem weird to anyone else that at the peak of traffic in a city with almost no mass transit system that we reduce our lanes by 25%?

See ya in the HOV, riding solo!!!

May 10, 2013 at 1:13 am
(22) ticketed first time#2 says:

My ordeal like tickedfirst time happened on the 101 Pima freeway at PM rush hour when some idiot decided to come share my lane. To avoid him hiting me and then god only knows what else after (a packed freeway traveling very fast! My only way out, swerving into the HOV lane. The jerk sped up when I attempted to get out of the HOV so I signaled for someone to let me in…. well we all know how friendly the lovely Snottsdale motorists are! no one was budging so I sped up to a gap in traffic just as I passed a motorcycle cop. Not only did I get a HOV violation I got a ticket for 80 in a 65 (which is the rate of speed on the 101 to not get ran over!) I plead my case to the officer with no avail only to get quizzed on how far I traveled in the lane, for what length of time? I just avoided a potential multi car accident I wasn’t studying for the next chance at Jeopardy! I hope the judge will be more sympathetic…… its worth a try.

June 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm
(23) Stokanator says:

@ticketed first time

Well to be honest I wouldn’t have believed your story either and this is actually where I understand cops frustration, doing 80mph to pass someone to get out of the HOV lane wasn’t a good move, and claiming “everyone else is doing it” is another lame excuse, just take accountability for it. Breaking the law to avoid breaking another law doesn’t make much sense. One second your claiming traffic was so busy you couldnt get over from the HOV lane then the next apparently the freeways is so wide open everyone is doing 85mph, Maybe you did attempt to avoid an accident but sounds like you decided to stay in it. Maybe if you confessed that doing 80 wasn’t too smart the cop might have been more leanant. This reminds me of when I was rear ended in the rain, when the cops came the lady that hit me was mad at the cop for ticketing her because she claimed her brakes failed yet she had no problem hopping right back in the vehicle to take it home.

October 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm
(24) Laurie says:

I am a retired cop, as is my husband. Our daughter attends ASU and just got a cite for using the HOV exit to 3rd and 5th Ave. She was unaware she could not use the exits but never uses the lanes. In addition, she was pulled over at 0855. Her car clock said it was a little after 0900. I am actually pretty disgusted that any cop in AZ would have the time to spend on something so piddly (yet extremely expensive for a college student who has a scholarship and works to pay for the remainder). Especially in that area of Phx, there should be plenty to occupy his time. UNLESS he was DPS, which is probably the case. The law enforcement agency in AZ that is LEAST respected by other agencies for precisely this kind of behavior!
I was taught to remember the “spirit of the law” versus the “letter of the law”! And, no, as far as I know she did not try to get out of the ticket by mentioning her family is a family of cops!

November 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm
(25) eme_733 says:

I am sooo confused. why do people get irate to the point of swearing and say it is stupid, dumb….. when THEY do something illegal, get caught and have to pay the fine / penalty? I mean yes the cost of the tickets do seem totally random with no rhyme or reason as to why this one is more expensive than that one but in reality that is irrelevant. The fact is … “You did wrong!”, you knew it and now you have to pay the price. if, like a 5 year old you want to decide that it is worth the price to do the improper act then you should have looked up the penalty first. otherwise, suck it up and learn your lesson or decide that it is worth the fine to break the law and be prepared to pay the penalty again …. WITHOUT bitching about it. Perhaps the fine os so extremely high to prevent people from deciding that they are “special” and can take the HOV lane without the correct number of passengers. If you need the 5′ high signs to be bigger to see them then perhaps you should not be driving. if your GPS directs you to take a restricted off ramp then, like you would if you hit a detour…just keep going and wait for the “….Recalculating” and follow THOSE new directions.

Hello does no one understand the concept of personal responsibility here??

November 27, 2013 at 1:41 am
(26) Diana says:

I got a ticket for this on 10/31/2013 and the fine is around $600 bucks. if you can attend defense school do so go to [deleted by Judy Hedding, About.com] it took me 4 hours to complete and for an additional fee it can be read to you. The final exam is 25 questions and its basic knowledge it like taking the permit. all together I spent less than have of the $600 I would of pay at court. it was no more than $200 also use my referral code [deleted by Judy Hedding, About.com] after singing up on the registration page.

January 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm
(27) Mike says:

Bottom line, if you want to do this illegally, make sure your windows are tinted and try to do it at night.

February 4, 2014 at 2:26 am
(28) azborn says:

HOV is bull they should just make it an express lane that you can pay for. I can only imagine that would create some sort of cash flow for the city. Also traffic is so bad here and time is precious.

February 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm
(29) AZnot says:

The traffic is awful here. It hurts to drive in the center lane and the left lane is open and a car driving up behind choose to signal into the right lane only to merge back into the center. Which then, a rock hits your windshield to make matters more irritating. Oh, back to the topic, HOV lanes are lottery slots, your chances are 1 to how many other cars are in the lane if driving unlawfully. Be careful AZ drivers!

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