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County Looks Into e-Citation Program

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Posted by Steve Horrell

Police officers and traffic clerks would be spending less time doing paperwork for traffic tickets if the Illinois Supreme Court approves a recent application by Madison County to begin an electronic citation program.

Such an e-Citation pilot program has been in place for several years in Cook County. If the Supreme Court approves it, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department would take the lead and start the program here immediately.

“It’s our hope that it would eventually get to all Madison County police departments. That’s our long-term goal,” said Madison County Clerk Mark Von Nida.

About 45,000 traffic tickets were issued last year in Madison County. Officers spend an average of 18 minutes for each traffic stop and e-Citations would knock that down to less than five minutes.

“That’s a very big advantage because nobody likes a ticket. But having to cool your heels – when you’re late for work – for an extra 15 minutes, is bad enough,” Von Nida said.

It should also make things considerably safer for the officer, who is frequently exposed by the side of the road.

E-citation would allow the officer to access a driver’s name, license number, date of birth and location by swiping his driver’s license using a hand-held scanner that is kept inside the patrol car. The information is electronically sent to the Madison County Clerk’s office.

During the stop, the ticket can be printed out using a small handheld printer and given to the driver as a receipt.

The current method requires officers to write the ticket out by hand and give the information to the clerk back at the police station when the officer’s shift has ended.

At the Madison Circuit Clerk’s office, clerks have to input the information as well.

“This is three times more effective,” Von Nida said.

The Circuit Clerk’s office has already accrued $175,000 in a fund to help pay for the technology. The Circuit Clerk’s office pays for the software but it will be up to each police department to pay for printers.

The money has accrued from a $5 surcharge attached to each ticket, of which $3 goes to the Circuit Clerk’s office and $2 to the arresting agency.

Von Nida has already met with members of the Sheriff’s Department about how to go about implementing the program.

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