Traffic Cops Have New Tool in Busting Motorists

ticketNo one likes getting a speeding ticket. Most of the time, if you get pulled over, you’d probably rather the ticket just gets lost in the system. While that’s rare, it’s becoming even less common thanks to electronic ticket tools, which law enforcement officers in California are increasingly using.

The most common e-ticket tool, made by Brazos Technology, is a handheld device that officers can use on the road instead of writing a paper ticket. The device can scan a driver’s license by its bar code (on newer licenses) or magnetic strip (on older ones). Officers can also input the license information manually if needed, if a card won’t read or is from a foreign country.

The device also allows officers to snap a picture of the driver, allows drivers to review what the officer entered before signing, and includes a digital fingerprint scanner that is more accurate (and faster) than ink. All of these features are designed to make sure tickets are accurate, which, in theory, protects drivers from being issued erroneous or mistaken citations. It also gets the ticket into the system quicker, uploading it to the courts the same day.

While all that efficiency may seem to spare motorists from bureaucratic mishaps, the main benefit is really to the police and courts themselves. Tickets with mistaken information—wrong names, incorrect driver’s license numbers—have traditionally sometimes ended up in the trash bin. Reducing the likelihood of errors (from 16 mistakes to just 3 over a three-month period, according to one Superior Court representative) will rarely work in drivers’ favor.

Of course, motorists shouldn’t be depending on errors in the system to avoid paying fines anyway. The only real way to avoid fines is to avoid being pulled over and charged with a traffic violation in the first place—simply by driving safely and obeying all the laws. For those who do get pulled over, the smartest move is to get a defense lawyer to help with your traffic violation. Traffic defense lawyers can sometimes get charges dropped or reduced, helping preserve your insurance premiums (and pocketbook), and may even be able to get you acquitted.

In any case, California drivers should only expect to see more and more police using e-ticket readers. More law enforcement departments are investing in the technology for a simple reason: it saves money. Aside from fewer mistakes, the devices can save hundreds of hours a year in processing tickets and fines. That means local governments save money, and that means old-fashioned ticket pads have their days numbered.

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