• Toll lanes turn 1 year old -- but cheating them is a trend that will cost you

    By: Steve Gehlbach

    Updated:

    COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Toll lanes on I-75 in Cobb and Cherokee counties have been in place for a year now -- but toll cheats have cost taxpayers big.

    The express lanes on 75's northwest corridor have been a huge time-saver for many commuters each morning and afternoon.

    But Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach learned that between 6 to 7 percent of all trips go unpaid. Those violators have cost the state around $400,000 in the past year alone.

    Right now, there are nearly 70 miles of toll roads in the metro area, including a stretch of Interstate 575 in Cherokee County.

    While saving Peach Pass users a lot of time, across the northwest corridor, south metro and 85 express lanes, an average of 1,500 drivers violate the tolls each day.

    “It’s $25 that you would pay, plus the actual violation itself, or toll that you didn’t pay.”

    One man from Gwinnett County used the hot lanes 942 times without paying. That’s twice a day, every weekday, for almost two years.

    Over the phone, his wife told Gehlbach they are separated and she’s not aware of more than $5,000in unpaid tolls.

    Add up the $25 fees and he now owes nearly $30,000.

    If you violate a toll, you don’t get a traffic ticket. Instead a bill comes in the mail.

    Don’t pay and you could end up in court.

    The office of state administrative hearings is where a judge reviews cases and can tack on another $70 per violation in civil penalties.

    Deborah Eady says she got no notification of toll violations from 2014 that totaled $234 until recently receiving a judgment for more than $10,000.

    The grandmother, widow and cancer survivor says she gave her husband’s old truck to a service station when the repair bill got too expensive.

    But the Peach Pass stayed in place.

    She plans to plead her case in court this month.

    The man, who we chose not to name, who owes nearly $30,000 is also on the court calendar and we’ll be there.

    If he doesn’t show, or the judge gives him the $70 fine per violation, he would end up owing nearly $95,000, or about the price of a brand-new Range Rover.

    Next Up: