HOV cheaters now face harsher fines, block the box bill dies

Apr 29, 2019, 1:49 PM | Updated: 2:05 pm

There will be new, more expensive, consequences for drivers attempting to cheat in Washington’s HOV lanes — especially if they use a dummy, giant doll, or other fake person in their passenger seat. It’s just one feature of traffic-related bills that passed or failed in Olympia this weekend.

A pair of much talked-about transportation measures saw opposing fates at the end of the legislative session on Sunday. One that would have allowed Seattle to expand the use of automated traffic cameras failed to pass. Another bill to impose harsher fines on HOV violators made it through.

RELATED: Troopers out to get HOV violators
RELATED: Block the box bill gets new life in Olympia

Block the box cameras

The bill that would have let Seattle use traffic cameras to ticket drivers blocking intersections and driving in bus lanes was originally thought to have died early in the session, before it was resurrected in the 11th hour.

After passing through the House, and then out of a Senate committee — albeit in a significantly watered-down form — it didn’t quite manage to make it across the finish line. Ultimately, it failed to come up for a vote before the legislative session came to a close at the end of the weekend.

Backers like the bill’s sponsor Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon still plan to bring the bill back next year.

HOV violators, using “fake people” in passenger seat

Alternatively, a bill imposing sizable fines on HOV lane cheaters did get passed by the Legislature.

The final version of the bill was amended with lighter fines than its original form, which would have jacked the penalty up to $686 on a third offense.

In the end, lawmakers decided to up the fine for first offenders to $186, and hitting drivers on second and subsequent offenses with a $336 fine.

Any violators in HOV lanes using dummies, dolls, or any other form of fake people will also be hit with an additional $200 fine, should Gov. Inslee sign the bill into law.

Washingtonians have a history of faking in the HOV lane. For example, a man put a mannequin in a Seahawks hoodie in 2015. It wasn’t the first time. Don’t have a mannequin? That’s OK. Another guy stuffed his dirty laundry in a hoodie before being caught in the HOV lane in 2014. And in 2012, a driver put an inflatable doll in a hoodie to get away with the con, which might have worked if he didn’t severely cut off and nearly collide with a state trooper on I-405.

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HOV cheaters now face harsher fines, block the box bill dies