Some solo driver carpool lane users in California losing access in the new year

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A big change is coming in two weeks, governing which solo drivers can use those HOV or car pool lanes.

The color of the sticker is changing as part of an effort to unclog them as more people drive electric and hybrid vehicles.

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Green stickers, along with white ones, are out. Only vehicles sporting a red sticker or a newly issued purple one will be allowed to use HOV lanes with only one person.

About 215,000 vehicles will lose access to the car pool lanes as the state disqualifies vehicles registered before 2017.

"If you were issued a green or white decal between January 1, 2017 and March 1 of 2018, we're talking about 90,000 people here, you can apply for a red decal that will be good through January 1, 2022," said Jaime Garza, spokesman for the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Auto dealers say they're seeing a last-minute rush to lease or purchase new vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt or Bolt, as drivers adjust to a new kind of sticker shock.

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"If the car is 2017, yes. 2017 that year the car are still qualified for these HOV stickers," said Pedrm Bigdelli, sales manager at Momentum Chevrolet in San Jose. "If it's older than 2017, you're going to have to buy a new one."

Tesla owner Chris Kelly loves the advantage of access to HOV lanes during rush hour.
"It's very predictable," he said. "I can get to the office in 20 minutes pretty much on schedule. Worse case scenario, 25. So it's pretty nice."

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However, Justin Stottlemyer will be losing that privilege on January 1. His older Tesla doesn't qualify, and he's not going to go out and buy a new one.

"No, I'm not ready to buy a new car," he said. "This one really works well, and I hate kind of getting rid of something that works really well."

For anyone wondering whether there might be a grace period after the first of the year, the DMV says no. They will be enforcing the new sticker law.

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