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Faulty Sign Means No HOV Conviction

A Fairfax Circuit Court finds defendant not guilty of driving a motor vehicle in a designated High Occupancy Vehicle lane under Va. Code § 33.1-46.2, as the HOV lane was not appropriately marked and the terms of the HOV restrictions “plainly posted,” as required by Va. Code § 33.1-46.2.

In essence, the commonwealth’s argument is this: The sign on I-495 East tells drivers that I-66 East during certain hours is HOV-2+ONLY, and therefore, a driver may deduce that no other part of I-66 East is available for non-HOV vehicles during certain hours. Even if that were true, however, no driver – especially one attempting safely to negotiate the challenges of driving upon, and exiting from, the Beltway – ought to be required to dissect and analyze the true meaning and implications of a highway sign in order to figure out whether he can or cannot legally drive on a particular road. In sum, the warning needs to be clear and explicit. The warning that appears on I-495 North is neither.

Defendant is found not guilty.

Commonwealth v. Patton (Bellows) No. MI-2013-0001336, Oct. 29, 2013; Fairfax Cir.Ct.; Charles K. Peters, Ass’t Comm. Att’y. VLW 013-8-126, 13 pp.

VLW 013-8-126

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