State: Drivers owe thousands in unpaid HOT lane fees

Updated:

State numbers dug up by Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant show 30,000 trips along the HOT lanes every month are violations with drivers who don't pay.

ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned some drivers in the metro area owe the state thousands in unpaid traffic tolls from using the HOT lanes along Interstate 85.
 

Now, the state is cracking down on those drivers who haven’t paid up.
 
State numbers dug up by Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant show 30,000 trips along the HOT lanes every month are violations with drivers who don't pay. 
 
That's about 6 percent of all HOT lane traffic. Hundreds of thousands of dollars lost each year.
 
"Every customer that pays deserves to have the people who aren't paying their share as well, so we're looking to collect everything," said Bert Brantley with the State Road and Tollway Authority. "There's no free ride."
 
The top offenders are all from Gwinnett County. One driver racked up 491 violations worth more than $14,000 in unpaid tolls, fees and fines.
 
Another driver among the highest amount of violations had 569 violations totaling more than $15,000 in unpaid tolls.
 
The worst offender had a staggering 610 violations and more than $18,000 owed.
 
"That's big-time money. Will they be able to pay?" asked driver Frank Bosah.
 
Diamant spent the day Wednesday knocking on offenders’ doors, but without luck until No. 4 on the state's list returned a text then spoke to Diamant by phone.
 
"It was irresponsible, I think we've realized that now, we've stopped using the lane," the driver said. "Now our point is to just to put it behind us and figure out a way to get it all taken care of and paid."
 
The tollway authority said it will negotiate down the fines for repeat violators who call in to make things right, but they won't budge on the unpaid tolls or fees.  Those who don't pay up at all will face collections, even a court date.