Your clean plate tags are no longer a free pass to drive solo in Virginia’s high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.

Starting today, most of the 16,000 Virginians with registered vehicles bearing clean special fuel license plates will no longer be able to use any of the state’s HOV lanes without the required number of occupants.

Some plug-ins and electric vehicles will retain the privilege, however. You can check if your vehicle qualifies by visiting the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website here.

State officials say the change comes after provisions in a federal law expired.

Hybrid-vehicle drivers, even those who have the plug-ins, should also take note that HOV privileges don’t apply to any high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT) lanes such as the ones on interstates 66, 495 and 95 or those opening in November on Interstate 395. That means if you want to ride free in the HOT lanes, you must have passengers with you and an E-ZPass Flex transponder set to carpool. On I-66, cars must have at least two people aboard to ride free. The 495, 95 and the future 395 express lanes have an HOV-3 rule.

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