I-Team: Slew of fines wrongly put Atlanta driver in HOT seat - KMSP-TV

I-Team: Slew of fines wrongly put Atlanta driver in HOT seat

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Sharonda Brown, a Call For Action success story Sharonda Brown, a Call For Action success story
A closer look A closer look
FOX 5's Call for Action volunteers FOX 5's Call for Action volunteers
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. -

Here's the story of one very frustrated Douglas County woman.  She keeps getting tickets in the mail for grabbing free rides in the HOT lanes.  Only, she says she doesn't use the HOT lanes -- at all.  
Well, here's one more example of how FOX 5's Call for Action -- our volunteer mediators -- got this whole months-long mess sorted out.   

The I-Team's Dana Fowle brings us up to speed on an issue that this driver could have gotten into real trouble over -- had it not been fixed.

In the eyes of the law, she was a scofflaw.  Time and time again, Toll Authority cameras captured her car taking a free ride in the HOT lanes. And that -- if not sorted out by Call for Action -- would have cost her hundreds of dollars in fines.

Speaking on the phone, Sharonda Brown, a Call For Action success story, said, "Ma'am, I've been going through this since January."

You can hear the frustration in Sharonda Brown's voice.

She said, "It's a big problem that needs to be resolved immediately."

That's because she keeps opening the mail and seeing this: "Several $25 fines here, three here.  Look! Five here."
 
All of them say that Brown got into the HOT lanes and drove without a Peach Pass.  According to Toll Authority records, she was grabbing free express lane rides.  But, she actually wasn't.  Brown says she was terrified she'd be arrested for this big misunderstanding.

Brown said, "So what I don't want to happen is to have my tag suspended, me get arrested with my son in the car. This is getting very, very serious and aggravating, and you've got to understand where I'm coming from. "

But, while she was being accused of zipping into HOT lanes, no one seemed in a hurry to fix her problem.  That is, until she rang up FOX 5's Call For Action team.  They're a group of volunteers who take up cases - like Sharonda's - to help get them resolved.

Brown said, "FOX 5 was the only one that went into detail, looked at the tags, everything. They helped me.  I really, really appreciated it."

Here's what Call For Action uncovered in the photos that the state snapped of Sharonda's car supposedly breaking the law. The picture shows a Lexus with tag CL157.  Now look at Sharonda's car - a Lexus with tag CL157.  But, with a closer look, it's apparent there are differences between Brown's car and the vehicle shown in the photos from the state.

With Call For Action pushing along the case, the Toll Authority finally realized they'd made a mistake.  The SUV taking a free ride is from South Carolina - with a very similar tag to Ms. Brown's.  Brown says she is forever thankful to the Call For Action team.

Brown said, "I didn't get any help until I called FOX 5."

According to the Toll Authority, they have dismissed all of the outstanding fines.  The Toll Authority promises it's on the record that these are two different cars.  Brown says she'll call if she gets another ticket.

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