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Here's Where EV Drivers Can Use HOV Lanes

Dan Avery

Jun 24, 2023

Getting to zip through the carpool lane might be the best reason yet to go electric.

EV owners in Maryland can once again use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, even if they're driving alone.

The perk was restored by the state's General Assembly on the final day of the legislative session in April and the policy took effect on June 12. It had been offered for more than a decade but lapsed in August 2022.

After registering for a $5 HOV permit, EV owners can zip along carpool lanes on I-270 and US 50, regardless of the number of passengers in their car.

It's part of the Old Line State's effort to reach 300,000 registered electric vehicles by 2025, including an EV tax credit worth up to $3,000 and a $700 rebate for installing a residential charging station.

Maryland is just one state where zero-emission vehicles are exempt from HOV lane restrictions. Below, find out if yours is, too, and how to register.

Why are EVs allowed to use HOV lanes? 

The US Federal Highway Administration allows states to spend federal funds on HOV lanes, which gained in popularity in the 1980s and '90s as a way to ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution from auto emissions.

Congress allowed states to exempt low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles from HOV lane requirements in 2005 and subsequent legislation added plug-in electric vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles.

In some cases, EV drivers can use high occupancy toll roads without paying the fee required of other solo motorists.

How do I register my EV for HOV lane access?

Each state has a different registration process, and most have tight quotas on how many permits are issued. Typically, you must purchase a special decal or license plate.

New Jersey doesn't require any special identification to use the HOV carpool lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike, so even nonresidents can enjoy the privilege.

Where can EVs use carpool lanes?

Of the 20 states that have HOV lanes, at least a dozen have allowed EV owners to use them. A number of states have already sunsetted their programs, however, and without further action from Congress, the federal exemption allowing any exemption to HOV regulations will expire on Sept. 30, 2025.

Click on the links below to get information on HOV lane privileges available for alternative fuel vehicles in these states:

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