Thousands are using the new express lanes without Peach Passes

ATLANTA, Ga. — As Atlanta adds more and more express lanes, more people are getting ticketed for using them without a Peach Pass.

Express Lanes along I-75 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties are still relatively new, but people are already taking advantage of the system.

Channel 2's Dave Huddleston learned that nearly 60,000 drivers have cheated in the new quick lanes on I-75  since they opened in September. That's more than double the number of express lane violations on I-75 in the south metro area, and those lanes have been open for eight months.

Huddleston first decided to investigate when he saw a number of vehicles without the passes using the lanes on his way to work.

Huddleston put in an open records request for how many people are ticketed annually for driving in the lanes illegally. He found that from July 2017 to June 2018 there were another nearly 250,000 express lane violators on I-85. Another 27,500 were ticketed on I-75 in south metro.

Chris Tomlinson, the executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority, said the number of violations is concerning.

"Percentage- wise it is still relatively low, but it's still an issue," Tomlinson said. "We know there are some people that get on the highway and don't realize they have to have a Peach Pass."

More lanes of I-85 will be converted to express lanes on Friday, making for even more drivers who don't have a Peach Pass, or don't realize they need one at risk for tickets.


People who cheat in the express lanes currently are fined $25, but Tomlinson said if you have to go to court, the fees could add up.

"They can assess an additional $75 per violation, on top of the $25," Tomlinson said. "So it gets expensive pretty quick."

Tomlinson said some people say they never got a citation in the mail, but officials have a way to make sure you get the tickets. Officials look up your license plate, go to the DMV to look up your address and send violators a letter and then start calling.

Tomlinson said at this point, officials don't have plans to increase the fines, even though the number of violations is staggering. He says the percentage of people cheating the express lanes is still relatively low, at six or seven percent.