New 'e-ticket machines' may be newest tool in police arsenal
By Ryan Cornell
MIDDLETOWN -- Speeding fines in counties and cities could increase by up to $5, after a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe this spring allows jurisdictions to tack on an extra fee to fund electronic summons systems.
Middletown Police Chief Phil Breeden presented the ordinance, Section 17.1-279.1, to Town Council during its work session on Monday.
"It states that any county or city through its governing body may assess an additional sum not in excess of $5, as part of the costs in each criminal or traffic case in district or circuit courts located within its boundaries in which the defendant is charged with a violation of any statute or ordinance," said Breeden, reading the code.
"If you get a speeding ticket and the court cost is $30, the court cost is going to be $35," he said.
The fee would be collected by the clerk of the court, held by the treasurer of the locality and dispersed to the law enforcement agency to be used to fund the "e-ticket machines."
Breeden said the ticketing machines would read a driver's license "just like a credit card" and include a printer that mounts under the headrest of the passenger seat in a police vehicle.
"If I swipe his driver's license, it will pull up all of his information on the screen in the form of this ticket," Breeden said. "And we just fill in the blanks as to the court date and so on and so forth."
He said the new electronic system would reduce the amount of paperwork for law enforcement agencies as well as the time it takes before drivers can pay their tickets. The current system sends copies of the ticket through the mail to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the court, he said.
"Your ticket goes directly to the DMV [and the court of jurisdiction] as soon as you [an officer] print it," he said. "If you got a ticket today at one o'clock on Interstate 81, and you got an e-ticket, then you could turn right around as soon as you got that ticket and go directly to Frederick County General District Court, and they should have the information available so you can pay that ticket if you desire."
Breeden said the council would have to draw up an ordinance determining the amount of the fee added, and doesn't have an estimate on when the machines would be purchased. He said the system eventually will be used by police jurisdictions throughout the commonwealth.
Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Les Tyler said he hasn't been made aware of any troopers in his division, which includes Winchester and the counties of Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick, using the new e-ticket system.
"We hear talk of them every now and then," he said. "It sounds like it might be a pilot program."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org