61st Court online traffic resolution begins

The 61st District Court is beginning a project with Court Innovations (CI) of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Court Innovations has an agreement with the Michigan State Court Administrative Office and has been approved to collaborate with Michigan courts on special technology initiatives. CI has been working with courts throughout the state to make interaction with courts easier by using communication mechanisms such as text, email, and an online database. The initiative here in Grand Rapids  is the result of a collaborative effort involving Tanya Todd, Clerk of the Court, (Project Leader), Steve Brunink, Magistrate and Bob Dykman, IT Director of the 61st District Court, Anita Hitchcock, Grand Rapids City Attorney and Lieutenant Dave Schnurstein and Sergeant Al Noles of the Grand Rapids Police Department.   

What if people could use their computers or even phones to dispute a traffic ticket? Thanks to this new program, they will be able to do so in the near future. The days of taking off work or school to wait in a Grand Rapids courtroom are ending thanks to a court program called Matterhorn. An individual who gets a ticket can log on to the website to see if he or she is eligible to dispute that ticket online. If eligible, people can submit their positions electronically to be reviewed by the Grand Rapids Police Department and the 61st District Court.

This new paperless program will keep citizens updated on their case through text and email updates.

Online traffic citation review is a way to have a police officer and magistrate review a traffic ticket without the person who received the ticket having to come to court for a hearing.

The process is not different from going to court — there is a police officer and magistrate reviewing the citation, making decisions based on the same criteria they would in court — but it takes place through the website.  Participants submit a request online for a review, and if the case is eligible, the police officer reviews the request for eligibility criteria and makes a recommendation to the magistrate, who then will make a decision. You get a text or email with the result. There is no charge for the online ticket review.

If you have a good driving record, the magistrate and police officer may be willing to give you a lesser charge that does not add points to your license, avoiding insurance rate increases, driver responsibility fees, and possible suspension.

If the request is rejected, parties still have ten days to admit responsibility and pay the citation, deny responsibility and request an informal hearing in front of a magistrate, or admit responsibility with a written explanation. More information is on the back of the ticket.

Eligibility depends on driving record and other criteria set by the City Attorney and the Court. Entering the ticket information and doing a search to find the eligibility criteria allows the person to submit a request.  Approval is up to the court and law enforcement.

If the party is deemed ineligible due to past offense record or open citations, the reasons will be given in writing.

The driver who received the ticket will still be responsible for paying fines on the reduced charges.

The Matterhorn program is currently operating in district courts in Washtenaw, Monroe, Bay, Ingham, Clinton counties and cities of Wayne, Lansing, East Lansing, Ypsilanti, Highland Park, Harper Woods, Livonia, Inkster, Southfield and Hamtramck. The Grand Rapids program will be available beginning April 10, 2017.