§ 40-6-54. Designation of travel lanes for exclusive use of certain vehicles; penalty; presumption that owner committed violation; establishment of high occupancy toll lanes
(a) The Department of Transportation may designate travel lanes on any road in the state highway system for the exclusive use of certain vehicles, as provided in Code Section 32-9-4; provided, however, that where such designation has been made, the road shall be appropriately marked with signs or other roadway markers or markings to inform the traveling public of the restrictions imposed.
(b) Any person who violates subsection (b) of Code Section 32-9-4 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine:
(1) Not to exceed $75.00 for the first such offense;
(2) Not to exceed $100.00 for the second such offense;
(3) Not to exceed $150.00 for the third such offense; and
(4) Not to exceed $150.00 plus one point on such person's driver's license as provided for under Code Section 40-5-57 for the fourth or subsequent offense.
(c) In the prosecution of an offense committed in the presence of or witnessed by a law enforcement officer whether by direct observation or as recorded through means of video surveillance, either by magnetic imaging or photographic copy, of failure to obey a road sign restricting a highway or portion thereof to the use of high occupancy vehicles (HOV), proof that the vehicle described in the HOV violation summons was operated in violation of this Code section, together with proof that the defendant was at the time of such violation the registered owner of the vehicle, shall constitute evidence as a rebuttable presumption that such registered owner of the vehicle was the person committing the violation. Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection to the contrary, said rebuttable presumption shall be overcome if the owner of said vehicle states, under oath, in open court, that he or she was not the operator of the vehicle at the time the alleged offense occurred.
(d) The General Assembly finds and declares that the development, improvement, and use of exclusive or preferential high occupancy vehicle lanes, emergency vehicle lanes, and truck lanes or routes should be undertaken in order to relieve congestion and increase the efficiency of the federal-aid highway system. The Department of Transportation in cooperation with the State Road and Tollway Authority is hereby authorized to implement high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes where appropriate in qualifying HOV lanes. A "HOT lane" is a designated lane which allows single occupancy vehicles to gain access to HOV lanes by paying a toll set by the State Road and Tollway Authority. The department may design and develop a system of HOT lanes which uses value pricing and lane management. "Value pricing" recognizes the need to vary the road user charge according to the levels of congestion and time of day; and "lane management" restricts access to the designated HOT lanes based on occupancy, vehicle type, or other objective which would maximize the efficiency of the federal-aid highway system.