MARTINSBURG, W.Va— Shepherdstown police officers no longer have to write traffic tickets — literally.
Through a grant from the Governors Highway Safety Program, Shepherdstown Police Department now has e-citation printers in its six patrol cars.
Instead of physically writing out a ticket, officers now type information into a mounted patrol car laptop. That data is transferred to the e-printer device mounted on the dashboard, which prints out the citation in seconds.
The e-citations are designed to save officers both time and expedite the ticket information gathering process, said Margaret Walker, program coordinator for the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, who presented three new units to the Shepherdstown Police on Wednesday.
To the public, an e-citation will look essentially the same as a handwritten ticket, but for police officers, using e-citation units saves time and provides clear, legible citations.
“It’s very user friendly,” said Shepherdstown Police patrolman Mike Moats, who demonstrated an e-citation in action in the front seat of his patrol car.
“We started with three units several weeks ago,” said Shepherdstown Police Chief Michael L. King. “It’s been such a success already, that we said we have to have them for everybody.”
E-citations also speed up sending data to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
“For the court clerk, it cuts a couple of the steps out for them,” King said. The printer electronically sends a copy to the court clerk, and once the citation is approved, it’s sent electronically to the DMV automatically.”
Walker said e-citations also makes compiling traffic ticket data more efficient.
“It helps us on the other end, to gather the data to provide to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Walker said. “NHTSA is always gathering the data — how many citations have been written in a year, or how many DUI arrests.”
The GHSP has provided 94 units to law enforcement departments throughout Region 6 in the state, including six to Shepherdstown Police and 11 to the Charles Town Police Department, Walker said. Units also have been provided to both Berkeley and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Each Zebra e-printer unit costs approximately $800, Walker said.
E-tickets are also sharp and legible, in contrast to, handwritten tickets, which employ carbon copies and can sometimes be an adventure trying to decipher.
“We always get the last copy on those multiple copy tickets,” Moats said. “With my tickets, probably nine times out of 10, it won’t be legible enough to read for my court presentation.”