Due to the high volume of traffic on modern roadways, transportation agencies have proposed High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes and High Occupancy Tolling (HOT) lanes to promote car pooling. However, enforcement of the rules of these lanes is currently performed by roadside enforcement officers using visual observation. Manual roadside enforcement is known to be inefficient, costly, potentially dangerous, and ultimately ineffective. Violation rates up to 50%-80% have been reported, while manual enforcement rates of less than 10% are typical. Therefore, there is a need for automated vehicle occupancy detection to support HOV/HOT lane enforcement. A key component of determining vehicle occupancy is to determine whether or not the vehicle's front passenger seat is occupied. In this paper, we examine two methods of determining vehicle front seat occupancy using a near infrared (NIR) camera system pointed at the vehicle's front windshield. The first method examines a state-of-the-art deformable part model (DPM) based face detection system that is robust to facial pose. The second method examines state-of- the-art local aggregation based image classification using bag-of-visual-words (BOW) and Fisher vectors (FV). A dataset of 3000 images was collected on a public roadway and is used to perform the comparison. From these experiments it is clear that the image classification approach is superior for this problem.