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Electronic ticketing system a hit with Frederick police

Sunday - 4/7/2013, 2:00am  ET

If you've been pulled over recently by Frederick police for a traffic violation, you probably didn't have to wait long to find out what -- or if -- your mistake was going to cost you.

You have E-TIX to thank.

Nearly a year and a half after they started using it, police say the electronic ticketing system is saving officers time, helping protect their safety and allowing them to use their discretion in a more informed way.

The system, which debuted in 2011, has been installed in the department's entire fleet of patrol vehicles. It allows officers to scan a driver's license and registration, which automatically populates fields in a ticket or warning that previously had to be filled out by hand.

While it took some time to get everyone up to speed, the system has saved officers countless hours. Most fields that are not populated by scanning a license or registration contain drop-down menus, making it a user-friendly system for busy officers, who made 12,586 traffic stops in 2012 alone.

"Since we got the E-TIX, it's shortened the average traffic stop from about eight to 10 minutes down to about 5 minutes," said Officer Justin Thomas. "We're able to quickly apply the information we need to the ticket via the scanning process. Much more streamlined."

The system quickly calls up previous traffic stops or interactions with police, even those that occurred out of state, something that wasn't possible before.

Knowing whether someone has been pulled over for the same violation before makes it easier to decide whether to issue a citation or a warning, Thomas said.

The quicker traffic stops also increase safety, he said.

"Your time sitting in an iffy situation, whether you're on the highway or in a major intersection, it can cut down on that."

And for the angry motorist who might consider tearing that ticket up, the printer produces the tickets on a special rip-proof paper. It also uses thermal technology that doesn't require ink.

"It's almost impossible to tear," said Lt. Bruce DeGrange, who commands the department's patrol unit. "You can cut it with a pair of scissors or something, but you can't really tear it."

The department expects to further upgrade the system to allow officers to complete accident reports, DeGrange said. It already facilitates the exchange of insurance information, and it was recently updated to generate equipment repair orders as well.

"The program has been very beneficial overall at this point," DeGrange said. "It saves time, and it brings us more into the 21st century as far as the technological side of things, which is what we're shooting for. It gives us another tool."