California Dolphin: statewide California news

California is changing the decals that allow carpool-lane access

Q: Chino Hills resident Brian Montoya said he has a friend who drives a Nissan Leaf, which is an electric car, that has a white carpool lane access sticker. His friend believes that the white stickers granting him access to the HOV lanes will no longer be valid beginning Jan. 1, 2019, and that only vehicles with the new red sticker will be allowed to drive in the HOV lanes. Montoya asked for clarification about the status of the green and white stickers beginning Jan. 1.
A: Our reader’s friend is correct.  Assembly Bill 544 creates a new decal program to allow certain low-emission vehicles to access the HOV lanes, regardless of the vehicle’s occupancy level, for a four-year term. The current green and white decals will become invalid New Year’s Day, according to Cristina Valdivia, a spokeswoman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, people who were issued one of these decals in 2017 or this year will be eligible to reapply for a decal in 2019, granting them access to HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2022. Vehicles with green or white decals issued before 2017 are not eligible.
Starting Jan. 1, the DMV will issue new decals, in a color to be determined, to qualifying low-emission vehicles and the decals will be valid until January 2023, Valdivia said. The DMV will not issue a new clean-air vehicle decal to applicants who received a rebate through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project unless they meet certain income restrictions.
For more information, visit the California Air Resources Board’s website at arb.ca.gov or click this link for details and a list of qualifying vehicles for clean air vehicle decals: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm#vehicles
Personalized vs. specialty plates
In the On the Road column published July 30, we discussed a question by reader Donna Battiste of Highland, who asked why personalized license plates are so costly and require an additional cost every year to renew. We explained that there are 14 different California Special Interest License Plates available in California and that when you order a personalized license plate, the registration fee is higher to cover the cost of processing and manufacturing it. The renewal money goes to the program or charitable cause that each plate specialized supports. For example, the fees from the Whale Tail License Plates, sponsored by the California Coastal Commission, help protect and restore California’s coasts and ocean.
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In response to this discussion, reader Tina Webster of Highland wrote us, “Donna asked about PERSONALIZED plates, not special interest plates. Why are personalized plates still charged extra after they are made?”
Perhaps we didn’t explain clearly enough that when you personalize a generic license plate and are not picking a plate that contributes to a specific organization, your personalized plate is considered to be an Environmental Special Interest License Plate.
The extra fees go to help environmental programs in California. Environmental License Plates are just standard design California plates that are personalized. They can have two to seven characters (numbers/letters). “It is a Special Interest plate but looks like all the other regular plates,” said DMV Spokesman Jaime Garza.
So, a personalized license plate is a Special Interest Plate .
Do you commute to work in the Inland Empire? Spend a lot of time in your vehicle? Have questions about driving, freeways, toll roads or parking? If so, write or call On the Road and we’ll try to answer your questions. Please include your question or issue, name, city of residence, phone number and email address. Write ontheroad@pe.com or call 951-368-9670.
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