City system to streamline ticketing

May 26, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

Parking violators, be warned - the city's parking control agents are about to get tech-savy.

The Baltimore Department of Transportation is set to debut Tuesday a fleet of computerized, hand-held ticket-writing machines designed to make the job of parking enforcers more efficient.

Parking control agents will enter a vehicle's information as they do now, except that instead of writing on a preprinted parking ticket, agents will type the information on a hand-held computer that will also print the violations.

The new ticketing method should streamline the process by allowing agents to write more tickets faster and to decrease the amount of inaccuracies and discrepancies based on handwriting, said Ken Strong, chief of the department's safety division.

The machines also have built-in cameras and recording devices, which will allow agents to take photographs and record details of infractions through a voice recorder for use during court proceedings in which drivers challenge the accuracy of tickets.

The computers will also be linked to a database that will alert parking agents to stolen cars, which will then be reported to police.

"On Tuesday morning we go live, and people will see these on their windows if they're in violation of the parking laws of Baltimore City," said Strong, showing examples of the new streamlined tickets, emblazoned with a red strip on top for visibility.

The department has also begun an aggressive campaign against "scofflaws," those who have three or more unpaid outstanding parking tickets. Four of the department's vehicles are equipped with cameras on both sides that will identify the stolen cars and scofflaws. Since March 9, Strong said, the department has helped to recover 76 stolen autos.

Each year, the city's 66 agents write about 380,000 tickets from violations ranging from $23 for an expired meter to $302 for parking a commercial vehicle in a residential area. The 77 new computers and other materials for the program, including training, cost $443,000.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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