Judicial and law enforcement officials are pushing a program that would allow state troopers and other officers to swipe a driver's license and registration, generating a ticket that would be transmitted electronically to the court system. Eventually, violators would have the option of paying tickets via the Internet.
E-citations, as they were called at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, would help cut down on the 1.3 million paper tickets processed annually and help protect police, who can be hit by passing vehicles or assaulted by motorists during traffic stops.
Twenty-five states including California, Florida and New York have electronic citation systems or are implementing pilot programs, Chief District Court Judge Ben C. Clyburn told state senators. In those states, the number of traffic tickets overturned because of human error, such as violations checked incorrectly or writing that is illegible, has dropped.
A driver would still receive a paper copy of a ticket - a receipt of sorts - printed on a system installed in police cruisers.
Increased efficiency could have drawbacks for drivers hoping to get out of a traffic ticket by exploiting mistakes. A 2003 report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and two other federal agencies found that an estimated 10 percent of citations contain errors including misspellings, poor handwriting and inconsistencies between violation codes and descriptions.
The report concluded that electronic citation technology can eliminate "most, if not all" such errors.
Faster ticketing means getting back on the road faster, Hartnett said.
"People who are speeding are late for something anyway," he said.