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COUNTYWIDE : Car-Pool Fines to Beget More Fines

Solo drivers who sneak into car-pool lanes reserved for two or more people will soon have a more difficult time escaping capture under a plan approved Monday by the Orange County Transportation Commission.

Faced with a small windfall of about $7,500 per month as its share of the fines levied on car-pool lane violators, the commission voted unanimously to spend the money on overtime pay for California Highway Patrol officers so they can issue more tickets.

The money also will buy more signs for the Costa Mesa Freeway, warning violators of fines up to $500.

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The commission receives about a third of the basic $100 fine for a first-time lane violation. However, assessments added for court costs bring the first-time fine up to $246.

Commission spokesman Tom Fortune said the panel hopes to contract with the CHP for the extra overtime after Jan. 1.

Other proposed uses for the windfall included a citizens’ watch program, similar to one used in Seattle, in which drivers report to authorities the license plates of anyone seen violating car-pool lane regulations.


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