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220K California Drivers Set To Lose HOV Decals In January

A California issued clean air vehicle decal on the rear bumper of a car, San ...

Photo by Priya Sridhar

Above: A California issued clean air vehicle decal on the rear bumper of a car, San Diego, Oct. 31, 2018.

220K California Drivers Set To Lose HOV Decals In January


Priya Sridhar, reporter, KPBS News


California has passed a law creating a new decal program for access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes. This means that nearly 220,000 drivers of zero to low emission vehicles will be losing their decals Jan. 1, 2019.

Tyson Siegele has been driving his Chevy Volt in the HOV lanes with a clean air decal for the past six months. He will be losing his decal in January.

"It absolutely will make my commutes longer, it will make things a little less convenient for me … but even though the HOV lane is great to continue to have, I still have all of the benefits of an electric vehicle, it’s more fun to drive, it’s less expensive to drive," he said.

The California Air Resources Board helped draft the list of zero to low emission vehicles eligible for the new red decals. The red decals are available now and valid until 2022.

"Half our greenhouse gas emissions are coming from tailpipe emissions, so moving people into electric vehicles and public transit are a priority for our state … The incentive to drive in an HOV lane was the largest incentive for somebody to buy an electric car beyond the social responsibility, so it was clear that that was meaningful for folks in order to purchase an electric vehicle," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego.

She said the rule change was necessary to get a new demographic of California drivers to buy clean air vehicles. "It was never meant to be a permanent incentive, but an incentive to help people get into electric vehicles, get people purchasing them, looking at them, and that’s what at some point, it has to sunset," she said.

Not all electric car drivers are happy with the rule change. Elaine Borseth will be losing the decal on her Tesla in January.

"I’m not happy about it … it's kind of infuriating to some electric vehicle owners. I’ve driven 90,000 electric only miles and then somebody who has a 16-mile electric range is now going to be able to be in the HOV lane, and I’m not," she said.

Some more recently purchased clean air vehicles with an old green or white decal will also qualify to change over to a new red sticker.

"Some vehicles that were bought in 2017 or 2018 or vehicles that were issued a decal in 2017 or 2018 are eligible to apply and get that HOV lane access extended to January 1 of 2022," said Artemio Armenta from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

For more information on how to apply for a decal visit:


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Photo of Priya Sridhar

Priya Sridhar
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I enjoy investigating consumer stories that can help San Diegans navigate their daily lives.

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