MYNORTHWEST NEWS

‘My dog identifies as a person:’ Excuses pile up as WSP increases HOV patrols

Mar 29, 2024, 12:30 PM

hov wsp...

HOV lane on a Washington State highway (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Washington State Patrol (WSP) underwent a HOV lane patrol this week. Six motorcycle troopers reported 130 HOV citations among scofflaws in a 2.5-hour period.

“One driver was cited twice two miles apart,” WSP Trooper Rick Johnson said on Twitter. “Best excuse: ‘It’s 2024, my dog identifies as a person.'”

More from WSP: Man faces multiple charges after trooper shooting in Kent

Violating HOV rules can be expensive and becomes increasingly more expensive with repeated violations, according to the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT). A first-time violation is $186, and all subsequent violations within two years of the first violation increase to $336.

“Enough demand exists for peak period freeway space that the HOV lane would quickly become just another clogged lane if HOV lanes were opened to all traffic all the time,” WSDOT stated on its website.

WSDOT claims enforcement is the WSP’s responsibility, but WSP claims its limited number of troopers is already busy enough with speeders, reckless drivers, stranded motorists and roadway crime, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.

Drivers getting creative to use HOV lanes

Some Washington drivers have come up with unique ploys to avoid HOV citations. Last October, WSP pulled a driver over in an HOV lane when troopers discovered the driver’s passenger turned out to be a “creepy clown dummy.”

“Love the Halloween vibe but still doesn’t count,” Johnson wrote on social media.

The stunt, while humorous to Johnson and other WSP troopers, added an extra fine to the infraction for improper use of the HOV lanes.

A month earlier, a driver was busted by WSP for dressing his passenger seat as a person. The seat was dressed up with a purple vest wrapped around the back, a red scarf and a white Halloween mask with blood splatter on it.

More on HOV lanes: Tacoma HOV expansion leaves 8-mile gap

Compared to 2021, traffic delays on Interstate 5 (I-5) through Tacoma decreased by 26.5% during peak periods following the HOV project completion in 2022, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. That comes despite overall volumes increasing by 3.8%.

Peak periods are defined as 5-10 a.m. and 2-8 p.m. Washington has HOV lanes on I-5, Interstate 90, Interstate 405, State Route 16, State Route 520 and State Route 167.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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