MSP Launches Mobile Info System to Automate Motorist Ticket Writing Process

State Saved Nearly $1.2M in Development Costs Because Trooper Wrote Software In-House

PIKESVILLE, Md. (Aug. 8, 2007) – Even though many traffic stops made by Maryland state troopers are because of speed, troopers hope a new technology being tested will actually “speed up” traffic stops and limit the amount of time a trooper and violator are stopped on the side of the road.

Maryland State Police (MSP) Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan today announced commencement of the Maryland State Police Electronic Traffic Information Exchange Program. This pilot program is testing the effectiveness of an in-car computer-based scanning system that allows troopers to scan the bar code on a driver’s license during a traffic stop. After entering the violation for which the motorist was stopped, a traffic warning will be printed out in the patrol car and given to the violator.

The pilot program is expected to run until at least October 1, 2007 and possibly as long as January 1, 2008. During that time, the system will only be used to write warnings and equipment repair orders. Actual citations will still be written by hand by the troopers. The "eCitation" is not legally permitted in Maryland until Oct. 1 when the new law goes into effect.

The pilot program will not be conducted in So. Maryland. The system will be tested by 20 troopers who are assigned to the Bel Air, Golden Ring, and Westminster barracks. An outcome report is due to the Maryland General Assembly at the end of the testing program.

Colonel Sheridan said the new technology is expected to increase safety and decrease time on the side of the road for troopers and motorists they have stopped. “This is an exciting leap forward in the technological capabilities available to our troopers on patrol,” said Sheridan. “The hard work of our Information Technology Division and our partnership with the District Court of Maryland and the State Highway Administration (SHA) Maryland Highway Safety Office, is resulting in a capability that shortens the time a trooper and violator spend stopped on the roadside, while increasing our ability to conduct rapid driving record and wanted checks.”

When a trooper scans the bar code on a driver’s license through a scanner mounted in the patrol car, a computer program immediately fills in the driver’s name and related information on the traffic warning or equipment repair order. The trooper enters the violations electronically and they are documented on the warning. An in-car printer prints out a completed copy of the warning, which is given to the driver.

Simultaneously, the scanner system will initiate a check of the violator’s driving record and check for warrants. The trooper’s in-car computer is able to access this and other information through the Capital Wireless Information Network, or CapWIN. The trooper can even review a color photo of the driver provided by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, to help verify the identity of the driver.

The trooper will no longer have to write out the traffic warning by hand, reducing the possibility for illegibility. This will save time and lessen the danger to the trooper and violator while parked on the shoulder. A shorter traffic stop time should also lessen traffic backups due to on-lookers, say MSP officials.

Another benefit of the system for troopers is that all data collected will be transmitted to a central MSP system where it can be queried by troopers in the field. The ability for troopers to have immediate, interactive access to this type of information is a first for the MSP, noted Program Manager Gregory Shipley.

Other than perhaps spending less time along the side of the road, and receiving a warning or repair order that was electronically printed, Shipley said that there will be no changes to the process that a violator would normally go through after receipt of the document.

While drivers on the receiving end of warnings or equipment violations may or may not appreciate being able to get on their way faster, there is good news that Maryland taxpayers are sure to welcome. The MSP was able to save approximately $1.2M dollars by developing the software in-house, according to MSP officials. Trooper First Class Chris Corea, of the MSP Information Technology Division, developed the computer software single-handedly. The savings is based on a commercial $1.2M bid that the state received. The only cost to the taxpayer was TFC Corea's time, noted Shipley.

The cost savings to the taxpayers may also be extended forward when the Maryland State Police offer the software developed in this program to other police departments free-of-charge.

The scanners and printers used in this program were purchased by funds from the Maryland Highway Safety Office.

An ultimate outcome of this testing program will be the issuance of traffic citations, warnings, and equipment repair orders electronically. State Police are working with the Honorable Ben C. Clyburn, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland, in the development of the electronic transfer of citation information. The traffic violation data collected by troopers during the pilot program are being electronically transferred to the District Court as part of the testing process.

If efforts continue to be successful, traffic citations could be issued electronically within the next few months.

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