As you probably already know, Virginia's law has changed as far as driving on HOV alone in a "clean fuel" vehicle. Those who registered their eligible vehicles after June 30,2006 are no longer be able to drive alone on 95/395 and will get a new clean fuel plate to differentiate. All clean fuel plates are still able to drive alone on 66.

Here is where it gets interesting. I sold my 2003 HCH and bought a used 2006 on July 26, well after the deadline. I went to the Falls Church DMV Select on a Friday to title the 2006 and transfer my plates. The lady told me that I could not, in fact, transfer the plates because of the new law. She issued me regular plates and told me that I would have to apply for the new clean fuel plates and could return my old ones for a refund. I was not happy since I live off 395 and take it to work daily.

In search of a link on dmvnow.com to apply for the new plates, I found the law and the grandfather clause, which states that clean fuel plates on an eligible vehicle that was registered before July 1, 2006, can be transfered to another eligible vehicle no matter the date of registration.

Knowing that the DMV Select was closed, I called anyway and city commisioner himself happened to answer the phone. I explained my predicament and asked how to fix it. He was surprised at my findings and said he would bring it up to the woman I had dealt with, a 16-year veteran of the DMV. He told me to try going to Fair Oaks Mall on Saturday, and if they couldn't help me to come back to Falls Church on Monday and they would work it out.

At Fair Oaks, the lady at the help desk knew exactly what I was talking about. When I got to the window, I explained my situation again, but the transfer would not work on the computer. That lady went to get a supervisor, who then told me that I could not transfer my plates because of the new law. I pleaded my case, which they said made perfect sense, and they agreed to fax the form to Richmond and let them make the decision, as anything dealing with clean fuel plates had to go through Richmond, much like when I initially registered my 2003 HCH.

On Monday I got a call from the DMV veteran from Falls Church telling me that she had just faxed my form from Friday down to Richmond, called a friend in Richmond to expedite the process, and was told that because of the law I could not transfer my plates and that she was very sorry. Then she called me again a few minutes later and said that her friend was looking at the law to verify the situation.

I did not hear anything else until I received my new registration for my 2006 HCH with the old clean fuel plates a few days later. I returned my regular plates issued to me the week before to Falls Church and received a refund, minus the transfer fee.