11 percent of traffic tickets dismissed because of illegibility and other factors


More than 9,000 traffic tickets last year were dismissed by police or the court, in some cases because officers' handwriting was illegible, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said this week.

The number of traffic fines issued statewide is declining, while the percentage dismissed, either by the court or police, is rising.

In fiscal year 2013, law enforcement officers - game wardens, sheriffs, municipal police and state troopers - wrote 83,681 traffic tickets, according to data from Flynn. Of those, 11 percent were dismissed.

In fiscal year 2011, 9 percent of the 91,743 tickets written were dismissed. In FY2012, 10 percent of the 86,676 tickets were dismissed.

"That's a substantial number of tickets," Flynn said.

E-ticketing is one option officials are considering to cut down on ticket errors, but an electronic system could take at least two years to implement, officials say.

Court officials Friday said they process all tickets they receive. The court can dismiss a ticket if a hearing magistrate rules in favor of a driver, or if an officer settles with the driver and dismisses a ticket, for example.

"Every complaint that is filed with the court is processed," said Gabrielle Lapointe, clerk of the court at the Vermont Judicial Bureau, which has statewide jurisdiction over civil violations including traffic tickets.

The Department of Public Safety is trying to determine why some tickets were dismissed, Flynn said. His data came from the Governor's Highway Safety Program, the state police and an electronic ticketing study committee.

Flynn said electronic ticketing would cut down on the number of tickets that can't be processed because of bad handwriting or a pen that freezes in cold weather.

"Any time that you have human interaction with a piece of paper it provides an opportunity for something to go wrong," Flynn said.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions