GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Getting a traffic ticket is hassle enough. If you want to argue that ticket, you are going to have to go to court. But that might not be the case for long.
Officials at 61st District Court in Grand Rapids are watching a pilot program in other parts of the state which allows drivers to fight a ticket online.
“There may not be any reduction, or there may be a reduction. But I think the benefit to you, you’re not taking time out of work. You can go home and do that online,” said 61st District Court administrator Gary Secor.
The online ticket review program is being tested in four other courts including East Lansing, Bay County, Highland Park and Washtenaw County. It allows someone fighting a ticket to answer a series of questions online to determine if their case is eligible for a resolution. The prosecutor or police agency responsible for the ticket gives their side of the case. The magistrate makes a decision and lets the alleged violator know what it is.
“If they accepted that, then they could go online and make their payment, never have to come down to the courthouse,” said Secor.
In East Lansing, the 54B District Court began their program on June 1. Court officials say so far they’ve handled four online cases, but expect the popularity to grow, especially considering East Lansing’s young, more digitally connected population.
While the main idea is to save the public time and effort, in theory it could save the court and taxpayers money on the personnel and paperwork side.
Not everybody appeals their tickets, including Smidge Rogers.
“Hey, no arguing here. I did it,” said Rogers, who was in line at the 61st District Court payment windows at the Kent County Courthouse on Monday, waiting to make a payment on his fine as the result of a recent traffic mishap.
If the case was different and he didn’t think he was in the wrong, would he take the online appeal?
Probably not. Rogers says he prefers the face-to-face approach.
“You can give them the option. But for me, I would want to deal with people in public, or upfront,” said Rogers.
“Some people are going to see the convenience in that. But the purpose of our system here in this country isn’t always meant to be one of just convenience.”
Grand Rapids could implement the program by the fall. Other West Michigan courts 24 Hour News 8 talked to Monday are taking a wait and see approach to the idea.