North Carolina first to issue e-tickets

Motorists stopped for traffic violations in Cumberland County, N.C., are

the first in the nation to have their citations issued on a system that

lets officers print out a ticket on-site, while simultaneously sending a

copy via radio waves to the court's computer system.

The electronic citation project, a public/private partnership involving

six law enforcement agencies and three vendors, went live on March 8. It

is the first system in the country that uses wireless technology to send

copies of tickets to the court computer system, eliminating the need for

labor-intensive, redundant data entry, said First Sgt. Jeff Winstead of

the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

The e-Citation process begins when officers issue a citation on their

laptop and print out a hard copy on a small printer in their patrol car.

A soft copy of the ticket is then sent to the state's Criminal Justice Information

Network, where judges and court clerks can access it.

"There are multiple handwritten copies that are [traditionally] handled

by the trooper, the court clerk, the DMV and for auditing purposes, so there's

a constant handling of that data," Winstead said. "The mobile data terminals

are already in use and so is the Criminal Justice Information Network. We're

enhancing that particular system, which frees up the officers from the mundane

filing types of tasks and puts them in the field longer."

The project cost $500,000 and was funded by the Governor's Highway Safety

Program. A total of 32 officers from the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department,

the Fayetteville Police Department and the State Highway Patrol will participate

in a 90-day pilot. Then the state's Administrative Office of the Courts

will evaluate the data and begin plans to expand the program on a county-by-county

basis, Winstead said. "We'll find the gremlins in the pilot and work them

out," he said.

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