The DMV will begin mailing partially completed applications for the new California HOV lane sticker after October 1, 2018 to all those who obtained their green or white stickers on or after January 1, 2017, according to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The applications will go out to the registered holders at their last known address. To make it easier for the civic-minded owners of these environmentally friendly vehicles, the DMV says they’ll even provide return envelopes.

There’s been a bit of angst in the California carpool community these days. Much of it was due to the uncertainty of the new single-occupant HOV sticker program set to render all the green and white stickers obsolete after January 1, 2019. Up until now, the word from DMV has been along the lines of “stay tuned for more information.” Well, a major part of that information has now arrived with the announcement of the October mailings.

We’ll all be seeing red come 2019

The applications are for the red Clean Air Vehicle stickers, which are good for cruising the carpool lanes in single-occupant status until January 1, 2022. DMV says it takes approximately 30 days to process the applications and get the new stickers mailed to you. Assuming you act quickly after receiving the applications in the mail, you should be able to get your new stickers in time for the new year.

To iterate, only owners of cars with the green or white stickers acquired on or after January 1, 2017, are eligible for the new California HOV lane sticker (the new red stickers).

Goodbye green and white stickers

So what does this mean for owners who acquired their green or white stickers on December 31, 2016, or earlier? It means you may be in the market for a new car if you want to stay in the carpool lanes (as a single-occupant) after the new year comes around. Keep an eye open for a surge of used electric and plug-in hybrid cars hitting the California market soon as their prior owners find cars eligible for the new California HOV lane sticker.

  • For more information on the application mailings, how to apply, and a set of frequently asked questions (and answers), click here.
  • For more information on the HOV sticker income guidelines, click here.
  • Well, you won’t need a clean car to get these stickers: No Access Gas Guzzler

The Fine Print
(from the folks at the DMV):

CAV decals issued on or after January 1, 2019, are valid until January 1 of the fourth year after the year of issuance. All CAV decals must also be reauthorized for use by the Federal Highway Administration. If reauthorization is not granted, the Clean Air Vehicle decal program could end sooner than state law currently allows.

Carpool lane use may be restricted at any time by the California Department of Transportation and federal law for all CAVs carrying fewer occupants than the posted minimum requirement, if their presence contributes to increased traffic congestion, increased travel times, decreased sustained travel speeds, or other factors affecting any carpool lane or segment of that lane.

CAVs that meet the posted minimum occupancy requirements for carpool lanes are not subject to the above restrictions.

All CAV decals remain with the vehicle they were originally issued to and cannot be transferred to any other vehicle. If you purchase a vehicle that has CAV decals, you may transfer the decal to your name.

About the photograph: No, they’re not carpoolers jumping for joy over the new HOV stickers. It’s the opening scene from Summit Entertainment’s “La La Land”, which WAS shot on the carpool ramps connecting the 105 and 110 freeways in Los Angeles.