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Traffic tickets could go electronic by next year, state says

In the current system, state and local police handwrite most citations.

George Rizer for the Globe/File

In the current system, state and local police handwrite most citations.

State Police and local forces plan to introduce a new system that will replace handwritten tickets with electronic ones, officials said.

The Motor Vehicle Automated Crash and Citation System, aims to improve the way citation data is collected and transmitted, said Curt Wood, undersecretary for forensic science and technology in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

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The equipment needed to support the system is estimated to cost about $7,500 per cruiser, Wood said. The Legislature recently approved $20 million in bond funding for it, he said.

In the current system, state and local police handwrite most citations, Wood said. They give one copy to the motorist, keep a file copy, and mail another copy to the state Registry of Motor Vehicles. The existing process is vulnerable to sloppiness and mistakes, he said.

When a driver is pulled over, under the new system, police will run a driver’s license through a card reader, enter traffic ticket or crash information, and then print out a ticket. Data is automatically sent to the Registry.

“The new system reduces the potential for error,” Wood said, calling the current system a “very cumbersome and labor-intensive process.”

The system was developed by X-Fact, a North Andover company under contract with the state, Wood said.

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s highway safety division provided a $1.9 million federal grant to develop and pilot-test the system, Wood said. During the trial, State Police and police in Springfield, Framingham, Lowell, Pittsfield, and Brookline tested the system.

Wood said statewide implementation could begin as early as 2015.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.
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