Report: Digitizing state police tickets could make traffic stops last half as long

Report: Digitizing state police tickets could make traffic stops last half as long
Virginia State Police has started a two-year trial run of an electronic summons system that digitizes the ticket-writing process. (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

No driver wants to sit on the side of the road upwards of 20 minutes waiting to get a speeding ticket. And with cars whooshing by a few feet away, state troopers don’t want to be stuck doing roadside paperwork any longer than they have to.

But there may be a way to make traffic stops less of a hassle for everybody, according to the Virginia State Police.

In Northern Virginia, the agency has started a two-year trial run of an electronic summons system that digitizes the ticket-writing process, allowing troopers to enter information into a computer – partially by scanning driver’s licenses and vehicle registration cards – instead of filling out paper forms by hand.

Since late June, troopers participating in the test have seen average traffic stop times drop from 26 minutes per ticket to 10 minutes per ticket, according to a new State Police report.

With the electronic ticketing system, the trooper still prints a paper copy to give to the driver. But case information is electronically transmitted to local courts, eliminating the need for manual data entry and cutting down on flubs caused by sloppy handwriting.

Policymakers are considering rolling out the new system to State Police patrol cars everywhere, but that may require General Assembly approval of a new, $5 fee for all traffic and criminal cases originated by the State Police.

The Virginia Mercury is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.