Monday, August 26, 2013

Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint e-Citation Program

The Arizona Courts have developed a program to support the use of e-Citation systems in the state. The program manager explains their system, approach, and benefits.


By: Marretta Mathes, Arizona Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts, Court Services Division

The e-Citation project for the Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint (ATTC) is a statewide initiative that has required the collaborative efforts of the courts and law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona. E-Citation is a process that permits law enforcement agencies to issue citations by means of an electronic device that transmits the citation information to the court, creating a case; assigning a case number; and scheduling the defendant’s initial court appearance date on the court’s calendar. E-Citation facilitates a more streamlined approach to issuing and filing officer-issued citations, increasing the overall efficiency and accuracy of the citation process. Possibly more importantly, the new system has improved officer safety.

E-Citation devices increase the overall accuracy of data entry by enabling officers to populate a majority of the citation data fields by simply scanning barcodes on the violator’s driver’s license and registration. This permits officers to spend less time hand-writing the required citation information, thereby decreasing the time the officers spend on the roadside, as well as the probability of a secondary collision. Additionally, some devices allow this information to be transferred from the citation to other electronic documents, eliminating the need to enter duplicate information on multiple forms.

Additionally, some devices allow the officer to capture the violator’s signature directly on the device’s screen. The signature is then transmitted electronically to the court with the citation information. This is beneficial because it eliminates the need for the officer to return to his or her vehicle to print the citation for signature. Further, this affords the officer more interaction with the violator because the officer is able to spend less time in his or her vehicle during the traffic stop, allowing the officer to identify other areas of concern that he or she may not have otherwise identified.

Once the citation has been issued, the officer can then transmit the citation to the appropriate court instead of physically filing the citation at the courthouse. This saves a significant amount of time for not only the officers, but for court employees as well. Instead of entering an entire citation in the court’s case management system, the court simply has to acknowledge receipt of the citation and complete a quality assurance check. Many courts also print the citations as a means of keeping track of appearance dates; however, some courts access the electronic document only if it is necessary for reference.

While e-Citation offers several benefits, at times, logistical challenges arise in ensuring that the charge tables used by the law enforcement agencies and the courts are in agreement. In addition, the tables must be updated regularly to accommodate new and amended legislation. Further, some courts experience problems with the conversion of data when the citation information is transmitted from the e-Citation device to the court. This becomes problematic when an error in the citation information is discovered because the court does not have a hand-written citation available to which the information can be compared.  

In the event that a law enforcement agency or court chooses to implement an e-Citation project, administration should thoroughly research the prospective vendors to determine whether their program meets the needs of the jurisdiction and agency; to ensure that they will set up the program on the law enforcement agency’s end, as well as on the court’s end; and to ensure that they can timely accommodate requests for any revisions or updates that may be necessary. It may also be helpful to speak with other agencies that have implemented an e-Citation project to gain insight regarding the benefits and limitations of the programs and equipment they have utilized.

Finally, e-Citation increases the collaborative efforts of the courts and law enforcement, and may lead to an increase in joint projects and joint funding proposals by acting as a catalyst in developing other systemic solutions. For example, once in place, the system is scalable to handle increased caseloads and may be a model for other high volume case types, such as eviction, small claims, and civil cases, using the same form sets. Ultimately, e-Citation integrates a streamlined approach that allows for an overall increase in collaboration, efficiency, and accuracy within the justice system.

For more see the Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint website at:

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