Ellen Goldberg, NBCDFW.com
Beginning Oct. 3, HOV violators will be fined $50 instead of the current $250.
The free-flowing traffic in the HOV lane can bring out the worst in drivers looking to shave time off their commute. And now violators will pay less in fines beginning next month.
Currently, HOV tickets are turned over to the justice of the peace who can fine cheaters up to $250. But DART only sees $5 of those dollars.
"Here we are spending thousands and thousands of dollars enforcing them, and we only made $5. Our officers put themselves in harm's way for $5," Ball said.
But under a state law that took effect Sept. 1, DART collects the entire cost of the fine. And on Tuesday, the DART board agreed to set the fee at $50.
"Seriously?" driver Christine Downing said. "Everyone's going to be on there, because that's not a big deal."
Last month alone, Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers ticketed 455 drivers for abusing the HOV lane by improperly entering or exiting the HOV or riding solo.
"They've implied that the body in the hearse was a second person, they've implied they're pregnant and that qualifies as a second person, but it has to be two living, breathing people or more to ride in HOV lanes," DART spokesman Mark Ball said.
Downing said the benefit of beating traffic will far outweigh the $50 cost of getting caught for anxious drivers.
"People would pay 50 bucks all the time just to have quick access," she said. "That's the pits."
Ball said the DART board could decide to raise the fine if too many solo drivers press their luck in the HOV lane.
The reduced $50 fine takes effect Oct. 3.