The HOT lane rule that may land you a ticket even if you pay toll fee

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They're convenient for many drivers on the road. But some say the HOT lane usage rules can be confusing, so one driver is fighting to get her citation thrown out (KTRK)

The METRO HOT Lanes can add convenience for many drivers on the road. But some say it can be confusing as to when you're allowed and not allowed to use those lanes. It was that confusion that led to one driver's citation that she's now fighting to get thrown out.

When Anne LeBourgeois moved to a new home, she wanted to take advantage of METROs HOT Lanes on her way to work. So she called the Harris County Toll Road Authority to make sure she was using her EZ Tag correctly.

"The HOV lane splits off into an HOV side and EZ Tag side. And they said yes as long as I go through the EZ Tag side that I will be charged and it's OK to ride it," LeBourgeois said.

But on July 10, she says a METRO officer pulled her over.

"When he told me I was being pulled over because I was in the HOV lane with only one person, I explained to him that I had an EZ Tag and that I was being charged," she said. "And he said no I wasn't being charged, and he was going to issue me a ticket."

LeBourgeois was given a ticket because she was driving in the HOT Lanes during peak hours. Between 6:30 and 8am, the lane is open only for drivers with two or more people in the vehicle. During off peak hours, single riders are allowed to use the lane if they pay the toll.

But here's where it get tricky. According to LeBourgeois's EZ Tag account, she was being charged to use the HOT Lanes during peak times and got a ticket as well.

"We want to make sure we're following the regional standards. So as the Harris County Toll Road Authority follows where someone comes in even the times they shouldn't be there, they're going to get debited off of that toll tag. And then if they're caught during times with a HOV violation, they're going be cited for that," METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert said.

Lambert did tell us that they are looking into LeBourgeois' case further, to see who she spoke with at HCTRA and find out if she was given incorrect information about the HOT Lanes.
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