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‘Electronic ticketing’ to get state test

It will be a long time before citizens see the results of anelectronic ticketing law passed by the state Legislature recently,officials said.

“It will be years down the road, but that law allows us to makeand test a prototype,” said Warren Strain, director of publicrelations with the Department of Public Safety.

House Bill 1095 does not mean what most people assume it does,however, he said.

“There’s a big misconception that it authorizes us to putcameras at streetlights, so if someone runs a red light we can takea picture and issue them a ticket. It’s not,” he said.

Instead, the bill authorizes DPS to take advantage of thetechnology now available to streamline their ticketing process andsave on the costs of paper.

Once the system is tested and put into effect, Strain said, themotorist won’t know the difference.

When stopped by a Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper, driverswill still have to show their driver’s license and proof ofinsurance. When the trooper returns to his vehicle, however,instead of calling dispatch and giving the license information overthe radio, he will swipe the license through a scanner. Thedriver’s history will immediately display on a laptop computermounted in the car.

Once the ticket is issued, the driver will still get a printedcopy of the ticket, but the ticket will have already beenelectronically filed with applicable court system, saving thetrooper hours of paperwork.

“It cuts down on paper, and it automatically files with thecourt system and updates our statistical database,” Strainsaid.

The scanner in the trooper’s car will take its information froma magnetic strip on the back of the new licenses that beganappearing in January. All of the old features of the licenses, suchas the hologram, are still intact, but the new license alsofeatures the magnetic strip and a 2D bar code.

Strain said he is not concerned about most motorists not havingthe new license yet because the electronic ticketing system isstill in its infancy. He estimated it would be “two years on theinside, at least four years realistically” before the new systemwould be in place and ready for use. By that time, he said,everyone would have renewed their license.

The delay in implementation, he said, is for the system to bedesigned, tested and the equipment installed in all locations. Thisincludes computers in each trooper’s car as well as setting up thecomputers in the courts to handle the electronic ticketing.

“As far as I know, the law is only for DPS right now as we runthese pilot programs,” Strain said.

The DPS director admitted, however, that he expects sheriff’sdepartments and other law enforcement agencies to requestelectronic ticketing authorization once the pilot process iscomplete.