Certain courts in Michigan are participating in a pilot program that allows drivers to contest traffic tickets online. The drivers can submit a request via the court’s website asking for a reduced charge that will result in lower or no points on the driver’s driving record. The driver must answer certain questions online and submit their request by a deadline after being issued a ticket. The police agency or prosecutor reviews the request, submits their side of the case, and makes a recommendation to the judge, who then makes the final decision. The judge’s decision is communicated via email or text. If the driver accepts the decision, the fine must be paid online by the deadline. This entire process spares the driver from missing work to contest a ticket and also conserves the court’s resources.
Eligibility for the online ticket review program is determined by certain criteria set by the court, including the driver’s past driving record. The online ticket review program is being tested in four courts: East Lansing, Bay County, Highland Park and Washtenaw County. To assuage any fears that the online system is simply automated decision-making, the court in East Lansing makes it clear that: “There’s a real judge and law enforcement on the other side, and they make decisions on your case using the same considerations as they would in person. The offer the court extends through this website is the same you’d get in court. It simply takes place through this website.”
The Michigan Supreme Court indicates that preliminary data of using the online program is achieving positive results. The average time from when a case is processed, the fine paid, and the case closed is between an average of seven to nine days, rather than taking months if the ticket is contested in person. Other Michigan courts are reviewing the results of the pilot program to determine whether or not to implement the online ticket review program. The process could be coming to your local court soon; as always, feel free to contact Wright Beamer if you have any questions!