Electronic tickets: we skip the due process and pass the savings along to you

by Walter Olson on January 28, 2014

“An Oklahoma state senator has filed a bill to allow law enforcement officers to issue electronic citations for traffic, misdemeanor and municipal ordinance violations.” Sen. Al McAffrey, himself a former police officer, says approaching motorists’ cars is one of the more dangerous parts of patrol officers’ job. So why not let them just skip it, even if that also means skipping the opportunity for motorists to be notified of their legal jeopardy at once, see their accusers, have a chance to explain themselves, and so forth? “If they don’t have to approach vehicles during traffic stops to give people tickets but can simply email traffic violation citations directly to the district court clerk then they’re less likely to get into a dangerous altercation, the lawmaker said.” McAffrey’s S.B. 1872 would also attach a new $5 processing fee to the tickets, of which a portion would be shared with the ticketing officer’s department. [Insurance Journal, KOCO](& welcome Above the Law, Scott Greenfield readers)

{ 2 trackbacks }

Safety First: Digital Citations Eliminate All Risk (and make moolah, too) | Simple Justice
01.29.14 at 8:35 am
Links #187 | The Honest Courtesan
02.01.14 at 6:02 am

{ 20 comments }

1 Walter Olson 01.28.14 at 12:18 pm

Best comment so far at Insurance Journal, from “Maatt”: “Hello and bright blessings to you, I am a Nigerian prince who witnessed you speeding…”

2 delurking 01.28.14 at 12:21 pm

How is this different from a speed camera?

3 Walter Olson 01.28.14 at 12:49 pm

One difference is that I don’t believe this proposal is meant to be limited to instances in which recording devices provide “slam-dunk” objective contemporaneous proof of violation (as has been claimed, not always convincingly, is provided by traffic cameras). To the extent that an officer’s subjective evaluation of conduct enters into the decision to issue a ticket, it is far more likely to be successfully and credibly challenged on the spot than after days or weeks.

4 BarNor 01.28.14 at 12:57 pm

Obviously, there is no need to worry that an officer might (from personal malice, desire to fulfill a ‘quota’, or racial profiling) simply enter a registration for an imaginary infraction, thus leaving the motorist victim with the problem of proving a negative — that he or she had not committed the violation. Thank heaven that all police officers are honest and aboveboard in their dealings with the public.

5 Turk 01.28.14 at 1:11 pm

Delurking:

The difference be this and a speed camera for red lights is that the red light camera only gives a fine to the owner of the car. There are no points on the license or any action against the driver because the camera can’t tell who is driving.

This would suffer from the same fatal defect.

6 Jon Sanders 01.28.14 at 1:13 pm

Don’t drive in Oklahoma with out of state plates.

7 John Burgess 01.28.14 at 1:20 pm

I have to protest the gross inefficiency of this proposal.

It would be far more effective to just pick names at random from the DMV database and send out tickets in varying amounts. Think of it as sort of a reverse lottery. You might get a ticket for $25 or one for $850.

The surprise factor alone ought to bring merriment to the plebs drivers! The city/county/state coffers will be kept full, too, with not a worry about officer safety.

8 Allan 01.28.14 at 1:27 pm

Ummm. How will they know who committed the infraction? Unlike a red light runner, where there is a camera pointing at the driver, police officers usually park behind those they pull over.

9 L Nettles 01.28.14 at 1:33 pm

Fortunately the ability to search vehicles under the pretext of a traffic violation would be unimpaired .

10 johnC 01.28.14 at 1:57 pm

And give up all those forfeitable proceeds? I think not.

11 marco73 01.28.14 at 2:19 pm

So the highways of Oklahoma are so overpopulated with criminals, that cops shouldn’t even get out of their car? Glad I live 1500 miles away.
This is about faster revenue collection. Instead of cops having to stop their cars and actually interact with the motorist, they just have to enter the license plate and the violation into their laptops. I’ll bet Oklahoma cops will all have to take a speed typing course.

12 Boblipton 01.28.14 at 2:36 pm

Surely the officers could be incentivized to do an even better job by sharing the proceeds from the tickets with the issuing officer, not just the department.

Bob

13 madanthony 01.28.14 at 3:45 pm

At least they are basically admitting that the point of tickets is to raise money and not to change behaviors… since I always find myself driving more carefully after I’m pulled over, which won’t happen if I don’t actually get pulled over.

14 Ed 01.28.14 at 4:37 pm

Can you prove where you were Jan 21st at 7:16 AM?
How about Jan 14th at 6:52 PM?

15 Bill Poser 01.28.14 at 6:57 pm

An additional disadvantage of this proposal is that it will likely reduce the deterrent effect. The deterrent effect of the fine will be unchanged, but the short term deterrent effect of being pulled over by the police will disappear. Furthermore, it won’t get people to fix equipment violations. Currently, if an officer spots someone with a burned out headlight or turn signal, he can alert the driver to the fact, of which the driver may be unaware, and motivate the driver to fix the problem. If the person whose vehicle is in disrepair merely receives a fine, after the fact, there will be a greater delay in making the repair, and perhaps less ability to do so because of the fine.

16 Patrick 01.29.14 at 5:18 am

There’s something to be said for making an officer’s job easier, but for my part I’m concerned that if this bill passes, we’ll see a precipitous drop in the number of pretextual drug searches.

And that would be a tragedy.

17 JTW 01.29.14 at 6:18 am

“Ummm. How will they know who committed the infraction? Unlike a red light runner, where there is a camera pointing at the driver, police officers usually park behind those they pull over.”

Same way as in many countries where such things are common: they don’t care.
The vehicle owner is ticketed, and it’s up to him or her to try to get their money back from whomever was actually driving it.
Which leads to a lucrative market in “used” (read ‘stolen’) license plates.

18 Gradivus 01.29.14 at 11:24 am

This is merely the way it used to be done, routinely. When my father got pulled over he would just slip the officer a fifty (or whatever the fine was) and he wouldn’t have to go to court or even receive a paper ticket. No muss, no fuss.

19 DensityDuck 01.29.14 at 11:37 am

” have a chance to explain themselves”

um, I have never once, in my life or from the stories of others, seen “a chance to explain themselves” stop someone getting a ticket. When the officer says “sir what was the reason for that” he doesn’t actually care, he’s just playing out the script.

20 D 01.29.14 at 5:23 pm

Indeed, DDuck, I think you are right. In fact, I have experience (twice) with helping a bully get a little edginess out of his system and bolster his flagging sense of superiority. I consider groveling and apologizing to the … servant of the people to be a public service.

To be fair, there was this one time when an officer looked disappointed that he had to give me a ticket because I ran a stop sign (rather egregiously, I admit). That is so backward; the one time I truly deserved it, the cop gave me a guilt trip rather than stroking his own ego, fie on his sensitive soul.

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